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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Booster clubs will need to show equitable giving

  • School districts will now have to ensure that outside groups such as booster clubs that donate funds to sports teams, are giving funds in a fair way that doesn't discriminate on the basis of gender.
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  •    School districts will now have to ensure that outside groups such as booster clubs that donate funds to sports teams, are giving funds in a fair way that doesn't discriminate on the basis of gender.
        New financial reporting requirements will be applied to these community donors, so that the school districts may track any potential inequality and address funding that is out of balance.
        Jay Starnes, principal of Wallenpaupack Area High School, briefed the School Board September 9th about what the District is doing to implement these federal requirements.
       This new layer of government regulation comes down from Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. All schools receiving Federal funds must comply with Title IX.
       Reporting is passed through the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) under PA Act 82. This requires schools to submit information regarding interscholastic athletic opportunities and treatment for male and female high school students for the preceding school year.
       Starnes said that they do not want to stop or stifle community groups from donating money to school sports programs, but having them comply with the law will protect both the community groups and the District.
       The law does not include non-PIAA sanctioned activities such as band and other co-curricular activities, but Superintendent Michael Silsby advised that the State can be expected to expand application in time.
       All athletic programs for grades 7-12 are included. School Interscholastic athletic opportuni0.ties and treatment for male and female secondary school students as well as community group donations must be reported.
       Reporting of financial information is due for the past school year no later than October 15, 2013, and the same date for each subsequent year.  The PDE has supplied a reporting form to be completed. These disclosure forms will then become public record available for inspection. Once submitted to the PDE, the school district must give notice to students, athletes, educational personnel and parents that the information may be reviewed.
       For appropriate sport, gender and level of each team expenditures will be reported for travel, uniforms, supplies and equipment, facilities and other expenditures. Total compensation of coaches and athletic trainers will be provided.
        Starnes added that requiring information on non-school contributions and purchases "is not so easy." External contributions have been hard to track. Whether this funding for boys' and girls' teams in any given sport, such as soccer or tennis has been fair and equitable is not known.
        If giving is found to be lop-sided, the District will have to find a way to resolve it to meet the Title IX requirements, Silsby later stated. That puts the District in the potentially awkward spot of either accepting less money for one team, asking more money for the other, or subsidizing the under-funded team. Subsidizing, however, won't happen, Silsby noted due to District budget constraints.
    Page 2 of 2 -    Non-school funding data collection starts with the 2013-2014 school year and must be reported by October 15, 2014. Booster clubs, alumni groups and other non-school sources are affected.
       Starnes said that outside groups will be asked to register. They will have to submit a copy of their constitution and by-laws. If the group doesn't have these, they may adopt them using samples provided by the School District.
       Booster clubs and other groups will have to provide both how much they give and how money is deposited.
       Each sports program will have to show a proposed and actual budget so that they don't "over-tap" the community with their fund-raising. There are limitations on the types of donations they can accept.
       Groups using small games of chance to raise funds will have to show they comply with the law. Guidelines are included on the types of gifts that can be provided at year-end banquets. The District will look to ensure proper decorum and sportsmanship by the booster clubs, Starnes said.
       Silsby stated that the District won't be overseeing the booster clubs but these groups will have to open their financial books to ensure giving is equitable.  
        Two handbooks on meeting the Title IX requirements have been drafted. The Athletic Handbook is for coaches and student-athletes and the Booster Handbook is for non-school groups and organization contributing to Wallenpaupack sports programs. The School Board was given copies for review and suggestion for changes, prior to a vote at an upcoming board meeting.
       
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