SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Children from the Bay Area may not be able to compete in the upcoming Scripps National Spelling Bee, after the San Francisco Chronicle suddenly dropped its sponsorship.
Surya Auroprem, 13, may not get his fifth and final chance at the Scripps National Spelling Bee after the newspaper dropped its sponsorship after 15 years.
“It was unbelievable,” said the eighth grader at Joaquin Miller Middle School in San Jose. “I was really shocked by that.”
A Chronicle spokesman did not want to talk on camera but told KPIX 5 budget cuts eliminated its Newspapers in Education department. The one person who staffed that department was in charge of the spelling bee sponsorship.
The Chronicle had sponsored the regional spelling bee for eight Bay Area counties: San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, Marin, Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino.
Schools send their winner to the regionals, in hopes of earning a spot to the finals in Washington DC. Surya’s sister, Ramya, competed in the finals four years ago.
Surya’s family is reaching out to local businesses to find a new sponsor.
Teacher Gary Dunlap coordinates the spelling bee contestants at Joaquin Miller Middle School. He said without the spelling bee, students miss out.
“It’s going to be confidence; it’s going to be experience. It’s those little things like that, that carry with them,” said Dunlap.
The sponsor organizes the regional spelling bee from securing the location to recruiting volunteers. It also funds the regional winner’s trip to the nation’s capitol.
The Chronicle said the sponsorship cost about $10,000 a year, in addition to all the administrative work.
Currently, spelling bee registration is starting, with no sponsor.
Surya is hopeful. “I’m assuming there will be a spelling bee this year,” he said.
A spokesman for the Scripps National Spelling Bee said it is actively looking for sponsors in the Bay Area. Sponsors do not need to be newspapers.
The spokesman said some of the bees are sponsored by businesses or universities and a region can have more than one sponsor. More information about the bee can be found at www.spellingbee.com.
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