School Board examines oversight of booster clubs

Bay District Schools

The Florida Department of Education released preliminary school grades for elementary and middle schools Friday.

News Herald file photo
Published: Monday, July 21, 2014 at 05:48 PM.

PANAMA CITY — Athletic booster clubs at area schools will face closer scrutiny of their expenses and fundraising efforts if a policy revision is approved at a Bay District Schools School Board meeting today.

School Board member Steve Moss said the goal is to make the booster clubs — some of which have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit respective sports programs and their student-athletes — more transparent and accountable.

“I know those words get thrown around a lot,” Moss said, noting a task force comprised of school administrators and parents provided the suggestions for a policy revision. “We rely on booster clubs now more than ever because of a lack of funding. Sports rely on their money. They serve a very critical role in the success of sports programs.

“We are looking for accountability and transparency in how funds are used and how funds are approved for use. We don’t have adequate policy procedure oversight for those funds.”

Moss said he supports the policy change and will push for booster clubs to make their financial records available in January and July each year.

“We want it to be transparent, and we want the principal or athletic director to have an opportunity to look at the books with 48-hour notice,” Moss said. “If the booster club is doing all the right things and can show the allocation of funds and payments, they should have no problem saying, ‘Sure, we’ll show you the ledger.’ When there is pushback or perceived secrecy and they don’t want to share that record, that’s when the red flag goes up.”

Another School Board member, Joe Wayne Walker, served on the task force that led to the proposed policy change. Like Moss, Walker believes clubs should be more transparent concerning financial records, and he believes school principles are best suited to oversee their use of funds.

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