Foothill High School's annual end-of-year dance extravaganzas for the junior and senior classes may see some changes in the spring due to fundraising shortfalls, according to a letter to the school community from principal Sebastian Bull last week.
The Junior Prom and Senior Ball both happen in the spring, and are hosted by the respective leadership classes. Both classes hold fundraisers throughout the year to offset ticket costs for students, but for the past few years, they have not been able to raise much money, according to Bull.
As a result, funds from the Associated Student Body's general account were used to bring down the overall ticket costs -- a problem, Bull said, because general account dollars are supposed to be used for the entire school community.
"This model of ASB contributing to the classes for the events is not sustainable, so alternatives have to be identified to ensure the financial stability of each of the classes to be able to organize events for their entire grade level," Bull said in his letter, which he posted on Twitter and also sent out via email to the school community.
Junior Prom has recently been held at the Livermore Community Center, and since 2015 has seen an overall cost of between $34,000 and $39,000, which includes the venue, the DJ/music, photo booth and snacks and desserts, according to Bull. The Senior Ball takes place at venues such as the Exploratorium or the San Francisco Academy of Sciences, costing between $88,300 and $101,000 per year since 2016, accounting for the venue, charter bus, photo booth, finger foods and access to the venue's activities.
Last year's ticket prices were between $90 and $110 for the junior class dance and between $170 and $180 for the senior event, depending on when a student bought a ticket.
This year's Senior Ball is currently set to take place at the SF Academy of Sciences on May 11, as reservations had to be placed about a year in advance, Bull said. The event's contract in place totals $100,000, though this doesn't include the price of charter buses to transport students to and from the event.
"As it stands now, prices for each Senior Ball ticket would be about $250, which is an increase of between $80-$90 over the past few years," Bull said. Junior Prom ticket prices are unknown at present, since they depend on the chosen venue and other costs.
One option, Bull said, would be to combine together the Junior Prom and Senior Ball into a larger event at the Academy of Sciences, though they are still working to find ways to hold both events separately. The $100,000 cost estimate would remain the same even with both classes, as the venue can accommodate a large number of people, according to Jenna Hewitt, the activities director and leadership teacher at Foothill.
"We want to provide opportunities for the student body to have enjoyable experiences as part of the social aspect of high school, but at the same time have to fiscally responsible," Bull added in his letter. "We know there has been a lot of energy around this topic, so please understand that we are trying to best support our student body and allow for events to be affordable for all students to attend."
The practice of combining events is one being adopted by many schools across the Bay Area, Hewitt said.
"Based on a survey that went out last school year, the student population was split just about 50/50 on this idea, which is why we are going back to the drawing board," she said. "We are talking with students, parents, and administration to make an informed decision about how to move forward. Ultimately, we want to make sure that we are creating a more sustainable practice around finances and these events."