Boosters Oppose School Policy On Extracurricular Activities

(03/14/2006)

Dear Editor,

We would like to make the people of Calhoun County aware of an issue of utmost importance to our organization involving the administration of our school system.

As all of us are painfully aware, the price of gasoline and diesel fuel skyrocketed last Fall quickly and unexpectedly. Our personal budgets were strained as were everyone's as a consequence.

In response to this situation, at the recommendation of the Superintendent, the Board of Education implemented a per-mile-rate fee of 30 cents for school-related groups when requesting school buses for extra-curricular travel.

This policy was implemented without a vote of the Board. The Superintendent presented the fee as necessary because the sudden rise in fuel prices would cause the school transportation fuel budget to be short of the funds needed to get through this school year, and this fee would help alleviate that problem.

However, in future meetings, when confronted on the issue, the Superintendent has stated he wants the fee to be permanent.

He also stated that the school principal had the authority to expend our funds without our approval.

This is not correct, and would obviously deplete the numbers of volunteers willing to raise funds.

As an organization, we did not have a problem with this fee as a short-term solution to the Board's fuel budget problem.

However, we wish to strongly protest the fee continuing at its present level beyond the end of this school year.

Our views are based on one indisputable fact; the state school funding formula provides 90% reimbursement of a county's school transportation costs.

Because the reimbursement is not immediate, we understand paying the 30 cent fee is necessary this year, but we are adamantly opposed to paying anymore than 10% of the cost in the future.

For the Board to bill a group such as ours $30 for a 100 mile roundtrip, then collect $27 from the state for the same trip should not be acceptable in anyone's book.

Using that policy, the $30 expense has been reimbursed $57.

It should also be noted that groups already pay 100% of the bus driver's wages, including fringe benefits on these trips, and we do not object to that policy.

Our organization is vital to providing funding to the Middle School for its athletic programs. We raised and contributed over $40,000 last year to these programs.

Without those funds, there would not have been uniforms for half of this year's football team. This group provides funds for the basics in the athletic program because gate receipts are the only funds available to the athletic director.

We feel that our group, and all other school support organizations, should only pay the actual cost of fuel not reimbursed to the school system.

In the example above that would be $3 for a 100 mile roundtrip, not $30.

Our $3 plus the $27 reimbursement pays for the fuel.

The Board should not be collecting funds in excess of its cost in order to deal with other budget needs.

We and others have spoken at Board meetings in protest of this policy, but our words have fallen on deaf ears.

It is our understanding that the policy will be on the Board Agenda for Monday, March 20th at the Central Office at Mt. Zion; the meeting begins at 7:00 p.m.

We urge as many citizens as possible to attend and let the Board know your feelings on this matter.

We are also very interested in the views of the current Board candidates, and encourage them to attend and speak out on this subject.

Officers and Members
Calhoun Middle School Athletic Boosters

Irona Yeager, President