TIGARD - Members of the Tigard High School Boosters have come up with a way to make some much-needed dollars for the district and improve the athletics program at the same time.

A new football scoreboard unveiled last week will help fund the school's athletics program through advertising from local companies and plans are in the works to purchase an electronic reader board to add to the scoreboard.

The $45,000 scoreboard was paid for completely through community donations, said Booster Club president Sue LeBrun.

'To me this is an income generator,' LeBrun said. 'We can sell ads on the reader board instead of having banners along the field; during graduation we can show senior pictures as their names are called. The really exciting thing for us is being able to provide more money for athletics in the future.'

LeBrun said that while some might cringe at the thought of corporate sponsorship, the funding that will come to the athletic department is a long-term solution in a world of ever-shrinking budgets.

'It's proactive. We are not just sitting around whining that we don't have money,' LeBrun said. 'It's being creative and finding new ways to funds things for the kids.'

Plans for a new scoreboard - which made its debut during Friday's playoff game against Sprague High School - have been in the works for years, said Tigard Athletics Director Alan Boschma, but there has never been the money to purchase a new one.

'It started with frustration,' he said. 'You would look up at the scoreboard and it wasn't working. In the middle of a game the score would go out, and we needed to update what we have. Then it was a matter of saying 'OK how do we fund this thing?''

To raise money, the Booster Club began selling bricks along the Tigard stadium, engraving the names of families who donated money to the fund.

The class of 2011 also contributed to the program and a group of local businesses provided $30,000 in sponsorships to help pay for the sign.

LeBrun called the scoreboard one of the Booster's greatest accomplishments in decades, and said that with district's across the state struggling financially it's up to the community to help pay for extracurricular activities like athletics.

'When it comes to education dollars, they end up going to classrooms where they probably should go, but things like athletics and music and all those things are so important,' she said. 'And we will do what we can to help keep those activities for the kids.'

The new scoreboard reminds many on the Booster Club of 'Project Pride,' the community-driven effort to build the Tigard football stadium 30 years ago, which was paid for entirely through community donations.

'Our community is so great,' said head football coach Craig Ruecker. 'There were so many people who took the ball and ran with it to build this. I think that people are excited about the football program here and they are excited about our high school.'

In the long run, LeBrun said that helping to fund extra-curricular activities is important because they are often the greatest memories people take with them from high school.

'Can you remember the best test you ever took? I can't. But kids remember being in the school play or playing on a team,' she said. 'Those are the memories kids take with them.'

The electronic reader board is expected to cost about $50,000, LeBrun said. Plans are to sell five $10,000 sponsorships for five years to pay for the new display.

To contribute to the scoreboard fund, call 503-431-5460.

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