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updated: 5/29/2012 11:35 PM

St. Charles might increase athletic budgets

Group recommends St. Charles schools spend more equally on student athletes

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Parents of athletes at St. Charles' high schools could end up paying less for their kids to play next year, as the district contemplates picking up more of the essential expenditures.

It is one of the recommendations in a proposal from a committee charged with unifying the various sports booster clubs at East and North high schools into one central sports booster club for each high school.

The district plans to up the athletics budget by about a third, to $587,000, in the proposed 2012-13 budget.

The school board last fall charged the community relations committee to come up with such a plan, after allegations that a booster club's money had been misspent. The allegation was found without merit, but the investigation revealed that the high schools had more than 50 booster clubs for athletics and other activities, and that financial oversight was lacking. The clubs had their own checking accounts; there were varying financial practices as far as monitoring revenue and expenditures; and, the school board felt, there were inequities between sports, as to what the individual clubs were spending money on. For example, a swim team booster club was buying team uniforms, as was a volleyball booster club, but other teams' uniforms were purchased by the school district.

A subcommittee of parents, coaches, athletic directors, school principals and district administrators has been hashing out the sports booster club issue since November.

Under the subcommittee's proposal, the booster clubs at both high schools will have the same structure and bylaws. They would focus on supporting all sports. Individual teams could still do fundraisers, but would be encouraged to do so only for community-related causes, such as the cheerleaders' annual Kickathon for the American Cancer Society. Such individual fundraisers would first have to be approved by the school athletic director, the school principal and the booster club.

Money made from selling concessions, such as food, at games, would be shared between the sports based on how many of the sports' parents volunteered to work the concessions stand. Community relations committee chairman Mike Vyzral wondered if participation would drop, since their efforts wouldn't go just to their own children's sports.

Parent Tom Mullally, who worked on the booster club revision committee, said he didn't think so. After eliminating "the endless carwashes," he said, "We are going to force them in to concessions, because that will be one of the few ways they can raise money."

"Parents should never have been paying for the uniforms," said Vyzral, asking why the practice developed.

The answer was that the school district didn't budget enough money, said Jason Pearson, the district's area assistant superintendent for 6th through 12th-grade education.

Athletes would still have to pay a $100 fee per sport.

The proposal spells out who is responsible for what. The district will pay for essentials such as uniforms, referees, transportation, equipment and facilities. The booster clubs will pay for enhancements (for example, if people wanted artificial turf, new scoreboards, or extra uniforms.) Parents would pay for team meals, banquets and personal equipment such as tennis rackets and golf clubs, among other things.

The school board will discuss, and may vote on, the proposal June 11.

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