The Groveport Madison Board of Education rejected a proposal to institute a pay-to-participate policy for the district’s student athletes.
The proposal called for all students who wished to participate on an athletic team to pay $200, which would include equipment, athletic supplies, uniforms and the required drug testing. All students, regardless of those receiving a fee waiver, would be responsible to pay this required fee. If an athlete played more than two sports, the third sport would be at no cost. There would be a family maximum of $400 per calendar year.
Under the plan, parents or guardians of student athletes would have the opportunity to work four athletic events through the booster club to cover this cost. If an event were missed, a $50 charge would be administered per the missed event.
The board defeated the proposal by a 4-1 vote with board member Teresa Burch casting the lone vote in support of the plan.
Board members John Kershner and Dr. Naomi Sealey expressed concerns that underprivileged families would be harmed by the proposed policy.
"I’m concerned about its affect on single parents," said Sealey of the proposal. "We need to research this further, give it more thought, and try to be more creative."
Board member Duane Dailey said the pay-to-participate plan needs a "grace clause" that would take underprivileged families into consideration.
Kershner noted that going from a no pay-to-participate policy to one that could cost a family $400 was "a huge jump."
Burch said she favored the proposal because it gave parents the opportunity to work off the cost and she felt it would help the athletic programs gain support from the community.
"It’s about getting butts in the seats," said Burch.
The lack of parental involvement in athletics at Groveport Madison High School is a serious issue, according to Athletic Director Mike George. He reported the athletic department mailed 1,800 letters to every parent at the high school level and posted news announcements in the local media and on the district’s Web site to request parents to become booster members. In addition, the athletic department called each middle school student athlete who will be coming to the high school next year. George noted only around 15 parents are currently involved in the booster club.
In an interview after the meeting, Superintendent Scott McKenzie said the board directed administration officials to exhaust all the district’s options for getting families involved in the athletic program and all its possibilities to obtain more revenue for the athletic department as part of an ongoing review of any future pay-to-participate program.
The board approved a security personnel plan for the high school that includes one full-time Groveport police officer acting as the school resource officer at a cost of $46,523; and Officer Mike Consolo, who contracts for security duty at the school, at a cost of $18,512.
The Groveport officer was on duty part-time at the high school during the past school year.
The original security proposal also included that two officers from 1st Choice Security be on duty at the high school at a cost of $37,024. However, board members expressed concerns about the additional cost considering the district’s tight budget and removed 1st Choice Security from the plan.
Kershner noted the district needs to have "a robust security plan in place" that would also include response teams made up of district personnel at the school.
"Teachers need to know how to react," said Kershner. "Our strongest response is to have our personnel prepared."
McKenzie told the board the district has been approached by officials from the village of Groveport about the possibility of Groveport Madison Local Schools partnering with the village in the construction of a skatepark.
He said the village is interested in finding out if the school district could provide land for the skatepark, possibly near the tennis courts at Middle School South and Glendening Elementary.
"The thought of entering into a cooperative process with the village sounds good to me," said McKenzie, who noted the land in question is well lighted and easily patrolled by the police.
"I think it’s a great idea to work with the village," said Burch.
District officials will discuss the issue further with village representatives.
The board tabled a vote on the proposed transportation contract. The issue could be discussed again at the board’s next meeting to be held July 25 at 5 p.m. in the district offices at 5940 Clyde Moore Drive in Groveport.