While they did not take any action, the Liberty County Board of Education discussed a wide range of topics during its retreat last week with Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer at the Mulberry Inn in Savannah.
The retreat, which spanned Wednesday and Thursday, and cost about $1,500, offered a chance for Scherer to present the board with staff ideas and proposals to be considered as future action items. Topics discussed included athletics, budgets and changes to personnel and department structures.
“Let me lay out the problem for you,” Scherer began. “When we started back two years ago doing the scrimmage game between Bradwell and Liberty County, that was an extra game, and (the system) took the gate from that game … to pay for some of the system expenses that we put into athletics.”
However, now that it’s a regular-season game on both schools’ schedules, if the system continues to collect the admission fees for the matchup, the home team would lose the revenue from that game. Gate revenues cover athletics expenses, and the schools are concerned a revenue cut could hurt their programs.
During the last football season, Bradwell’s average gate collection for a five-game season was $5,052, while Liberty County’s was $7,454, according to a finance breakdown provided to the board.
Board Chairwoman Lily Baker, a past athletic director, said the gate for the county matchup years ago was around $22,000 and $25,000.
This year, the scrimmage gate was $8,163, but that amount is not factored into the average for Liberty County High because it went straight to the board, Scherer said.
When discussing the discrepancy between present and past revenues, Baker and the board agreed it’s likely due to the increase in ticket prices.
“Georgia High School is pricing themselves right out — they’re charging too much for a family of four,” Baker said.
“We ought to have family passes and season passes,” board member Carol Guyett said.
To reduce the loss in revenue for the board and the home school, Baker suggested that the system give the home school its average gate amount and the system keep the rest. The visitor school would not need reimbursement, because it would not lose a gate to the sales.
Discussion continued at length, and members discussed the board retaining the funds, both schools splitting the funds or the home school keeping all the money.
They also discussed the district’s expenditures for all sports, including security/EMS, officials, supplies and cleanup, which ran $59,777 in fiscal year 2011.
Board member Verdell Jones asked Scherer to provide a breakdown of revenues and expenditures for all sports, that way the board has a more comprehensive look at what the programs need.
With much less discussion, the board also agreed to let bands travel to away games, a move that costs an estimated $410 per school, per game to operate three additional buses.
In other sports news, Baker said a middle school coach approached her about allowing the schools to join a middle school conference, similar to the one Long County schools are in. To do so, the schools would need a fifth sport.
“They count football as one, basketball girls and boys, that would be three, we have track, but girls and boys is counted as one — but we need a fifth sport,” Baker said. Adding something like golf, where students can use an outside green and their own clubs, would create a fifth sport so the students could better develop for high-school athletics.
The board discussed the options and expressed interest in allowing middle school competitions to act as a feeder system — but they stressed that coaches at middle and high schools would need to work together for the plan to pan out.
Scherer said she will look into the middle school conference and report back to the board. All of the topics will be revisited before action is taken.
In light of the recent vandalism incidents at Midway Middle and Liberty Elementary, the board requested information about which schools are equipped with alarms.
Currently, five of the district’s 14 schools have alarms, but only a portion of them are in use, according to paperwork Scherer presented. Members asked why schools with alarms would not be armed, and Scherer said reasons range from not having codes to not wanting to restrict teacher access to facilities.
The board discussed two possible ways to secure the additional buildings and get all of the systems in working order, but the cost to do so is at least $145,000 up front, and that’s before monitoring services are considered, Scherer said.
Scherer also presented a policy proposal that would change parental access to schools. Under the new policy, which came on recommendation from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, parents would be supervised and limited to two 20-minute visits to their child’s classroom per year, Scherer said.
Currently, visitors sign in at the office and are permitted to do their business, such as making deposits in their children’s lunch accounts or observing their children in class. Other times, people walk into the building without signing in — and some of the campus designs make it hard for office personnel to always keep track of who comes and goes, Scherer said.
Jones suggested that when the schools are armed with new alarms, they each be required to activate a chime that will ring in the office to alert staff that someone has entered the building, that way staff is more aware of who comes and goes.
The policy will go before the board at a later date, but Scherer anticipates it will take effect during the next school year.