New club raises over $10,000 for student travel, hopes for more by June

The 6-month-old Wrangell Athletic Club has raised more than $10,000 toward its mission of paying for student travel to state competition, with plans to raise a lot more.

Meanwhile, the school district has advanced more than $40,000 for student travel to state competition in the 2023-2024 school year. The school board last year appropriated $46,000 to cover a deficit in the travel account for the 2022-2023 school year, with the cautionary advice that it did not plan to repeat the spending this year — and would look to the new fundraising group to take on the responsibility.

The nonprofit club’s efforts were delayed by the community’s focus on the Nov. 20 landslide and changes in its board leadership as a result, but the new president said it is back on track and plans to raise much more by June.

“Our main spearhead of money coming in, we haven’t even approached that,” said board president Chris Johnson. “That’s going to be through the corporate donations. … We’ve barely started.”

Board members met on March 20 to review their finances and plans, including using pull-tab games to generate more revenue in the future. The board also discussed its approach to soliciting corporate donors and welcomed new board member Brian Herman.

Vice president Jack Carney and treasurer Jamie Roberts said they will send to the school district by June whatever funds the nonprofit has raised, after reviewing the district’s accounting of expenses minus the annual $400 state travel fee paid by each student.

Carney said the nonprofit’s contribution would go toward student travel expenses only. “We’re not paying for admin (accompanying adults such as coaching staff) going up.”

Johnson took over as president of the group after the first president, Mason Villarma, resigned due to a conflict with his new job as interim borough manager.

Johnson and Carney met with Schools Superintendent Bill Burr and school board president Dave Wilson in January to discuss the club’s progress and make clear that its fundraising efforts are strictly voluntary, with no obligation, and while they will assist with whatever funds they are able to raise, it will take time. “What we tried to communicate to Bill and Dave was, we’re in our infancy here.”


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