A motion to place half the cost of sports officials back on high-school athletic directors’ shoulders failed Tuesday when Liberty County school-board members deadlocked in a 3-3 vote.
Board of Education Vice Chairwoman Carol Guyett and school-board members Marcia Anderson and Verdell Jones voted against the motion, while Chairwoman Lily Baker and school-board members Carolyn Smith-Carter and Harold Woods voted in favor.
School-board member Becky Carter was absent.
“Currently, the school district is paying for certain athletic expenditures on behalf of the schools,” said Jason Rogers, assistant superintendent of administrative services. He informed BoE members the district paid $33,792 for referees and $32,776 for security for school sporting events in 2013. He said costs for game officials and security is expected to be about the same for fiscal year 2014.
Rogers said if the budget amendment had been approved, the district would have billed each school at the end of the fiscal year for their portions of the cost for referees, saving the system about $16,896.
“My major concern is that our schools should do more to increase attendance (at games),” Baker said. “With an increase of attendance, we would see an increase of revenue. But why would you, (when) the system is paying the bill?”
Baker said she thinks that in the past, Bradwell Institute did not collect admission fees at junior-varsity games.
“I had a nephew who played for the (Liberty County High School) Panthers, and more than once during my attendance, there was a vacant gate,” the chairwoman said. “We still have bills to pay, and the visiting team had a crowd.”
Baker stressed she was not trying to “punish” students or parents whose children are involved in school sports. She simply wants the school athletic departments to be held accountable for bringing in game revenues and paying for school-level expenses.
Guyett and Anderson voiced concern that the proposed budget amendment would negatively impact students and parents.
“If we put this expense on the football program, they’ll have to do additional fundraisers,” Guyett said. “We’re not going to notice it in our budget.”
However, families would be further burdened financially since parents already pay for athletic camps and other sports-related expenses, she added.
Anderson said she’s worried the schools would wind up charging students sports-participation fees.
Jones said she was uncomfortable voting for a budget amendment “outside the budget cycle,” suggesting the board examine the schools’ procedures for keeping gates manned during games and for tracking gate receipts.
In other school-board business:
• The BoE approved an amended promotion-and-retention policy for students. The revision would allow promotion-and-retention decisions to be appealed to Superintendent Dr. Valya Lee on a case-by-case basis. Previously, appeals could not be made beyond the school level and were considered final.
• Mary Alexander, assistant superintendent for student services, told the board enrollment is up by 70 students from the 9,932 ending enrollment for the 2012-13 school year. Enrollment is down by 116 students from the start of the 2012-13 school year.
• Board members ap-proved a final payment to Continental Flooring Company for floor-covering projects at Lyman Hall and Waldo Pafford elementary schools in the amount of $5,232.30, to Midway Middle School for $7,949, and to Liberty County High School for $5,660. There was one change order made to the project in the amount of $3,223, for additional labor to remove floor tile that had adhered to the Lyman Hall cafeteria floor beyond industry standard. These expenses will be paid from SPLOST funds.
• The school board approved four out-of-state travel requests. John Lyles, assistant superintendent for operations, will attend the National Transportation Safety Conference on Oct. 18-21 in Grand Rapids, Mich., for a cost of $1,000. Bradwell Institute English teacher Timothy Devore will attend the NMSI (National Math + Science Initiative) workshop Oct. 18-19 in Virginia Beach, Va. The expense of Devore’s travel is covered by a grant. Both the Bradwell Institute and the Liberty County High School marching bands will attend the 2014 Star Performance Universal on Feb. 28-March 2, 2014, in Orlando, Fla. The cost for the bands’ travel will be paid for by band members.
• The board announced a number of personnel actions that were voted on in a closed session. The BoE approved a one-time mid-year adjustment of compensation for all employees equal to their respective daily rate of pay as of Dec. 1, for three days pay. The board also approved the hiring of one paraprofessional and four cooks and accepted the resignations of a human-resources secretary, a Title I facilitator, a Title I director, two bus drivers, one bus aide and an art teacher.