Oakland Unified schools cancels 10 high school after-school sports programs

- Oakland Unified School District is cancelling 10 after-school sports at its high schools in the district. the district blames budget problems for what amounts to half of the sports programs in the district being cut, including wrestling, swimming and volleyball. 

The cancellations affect approximately 500 students across the district.

One of them is Skyline High School senior Emmanuel Hibbert, who is ranked in the top 20 high school wrestlers in California. 

"It taught me lessons that have helped me persevere, especially in an urban area, persevere through a lot of struggle," said Hibbert. "I feel slightly disrespected and hurt."

Other sports include swimming, tennis, girls lacrosse, boys volleyball and golf. The cuts do not affect large programs such as football, basketball or baseball.

"I could have a future of playing golf in college. They are taking that away. I won't be able to put this on my college application anymore," said Janessa Salazar, captain of Skyline's girls golf team. 

The school district says the cuts save the district half a million dollars. 

"These cuts we are instituting now come after years of budget cuts we have already implemented. Not to mention growth in pension liabilities, growth in transportation liabilities," said John Sasaki, spokesman for the Oakland Unified School District.

Many parents have said in emails that they're furious with the district, not only for making the cuts, but for announcing them too late for parents to try to raise funds.

"If we had known this was going to happen, parents could have had a reaction like 'Are there certain sports we are willing to fund ourselves?' or 'Do we have any options at this point?" said Vivek Bhatia, the father of two high school daughters.

The district says the decision was last minute, and hopes donations do come in from the public. But as it stands now, the captain of her tennis team says her memories of high school will have a big hole in them. 

"You really get to bond with everyone. It is something deeper that you really can't get in school. It is something really special," said senior Bonnie Guan.
    
 

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