By Sandra Haschemeyer
A lot of questions were asked and a lot of issues brought up but few answers were given during a meeting of the Beardstown School Board's policy committee held last Thursday to discuss the process for reinstating clubs and middle school sports that have been cut from the budget. Members of the Tiger Nation Booster Club, a group formed to help raise funds for deactivated programs and clubs, were present.
The next step will be a meeting between representatives of the board and the teachers' union, scheduled for April 22 and 23, to discuss the possibility of decreased stipends for coaches and club sponsors. The question will be whether the stipends can be legally re-negotiated and, if so, whether decreased stipends will be accepted. This will be a starting point to help determine how much money will be needed to reinstate the cut activities, said Brittney Taylor, Tiger Nation president.
Several issues were raised but no recommendations were decided on. Discussion was held on club fundraisers with a focus on the junior class concessions which bring in an average of $25,000-$30,000 each year. Board member Toby Brake said that during a policy meeting on March 17 consideration was given to offering the Tiger Nation the opportunity to man some of the concessions. However, Tiger Nation members said Thursday manpower would be an issue for them. Suggestions were also made for letting other classes or clubs participate in the concession fundraisers and giving a portion to Tiger Nation.
Discussion ensued on whether to cap amounts that classes or student clubs could make; how to allocate the money between the groups and Tiger Nation; whether to cap the amount of money that student groups could use for an activity such as a class trip; how to handle donations that the public may give; and how to disburse funds raised for the reinstatement of activities that have been cut. The idea of mandating students to participate in community service as a requirement for graduation came up again. If implemented, helping with the concession fundraisers would count toward those hours.
One suggestion which met with favorable response was to give a percentage of the funds raised, such as 25%, to Tiger Nation. Brake said he liked the simplicity of using a percentage amount and also the idea of students doing community service.
Pros and cons were discussed on many of the issues. One dilemma centered on student-run fundraisers. If the students worked for and earned the money perhaps it should be theirs, but if the school district is hurting wouldn't the right thing be to share it. It was also noted that funds from concessions are made because they are operated during sports activities and perhaps some of the funds should go to middle school sports.
Other suggestions mentioned were a committee of teachers and sponsors to give ideas on how to share funds since they are familiar with the students and monies needed for activities; consulting those who are aware of those student activities which may be a required part of an educational program; and conducting a raffle for sports programs as done in another school district.
"Ultimately we're all here for the kids to support them in their education and extracurricular activities," board member Kim Watson said.
Over a dozen members of the community including Tiger Nation representatives attended the committee meeting.
"We won't hammer out a solution in one hour," said a member of Tiger Nation. "We need to think of the best solution and open our minds to other ideas and thoughts."
Tiger Nation, during the last school board meeting, presented two proposals on how to reinstate the cut programs and gave projected dollar amounts that would be needed. One was a three-phase proposal to bring back activities as funds allow and the other involved decreased stipends for coaches and club sponsors.
Tiger Nation is planning a major fundraiser on April 26 at the Round House in Beardstown. The event will include food, bands, a kids’ corner, bake sale, silent auction, live auction, 50/50 sales and other activities.