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Frazee-Vergas booster clubs get help with coaching costs

The Frazee-Vergas School District is recognizing the need to assist athletic booster clubs with coaching costs and agreed Monday evening to credit booster clubs a per participant amount.

"Athletic fees were set to help the athletes," school board member Steve Jepson said.

The requests started in October when the boys and girls basketball booster club requested assistance from the district. Not wanting to favor an extra-curricular activity, and knowing there would be similar requests from other sports if one was granted, the board took action to assist all booster clubs.

"It seems wise to review the broader impact on the district should we go beyond our current practice of financial support for extra-curricular activities," Superintendent Chuck Cheney told the board last month.

This month, the board came back and decided to credit $40 per participant, which will be used for coaching costs. Cheney suggested defining that the booster club is to use the money for coaching specifically so it wouldn't be questioned what the money is being used for.

While the district has always paid for coaches, the booster clubs then would reimburse the district. The credit that will be given to the clubs now will come from activity fees that students pay to be in the extra-curricular activity, not from taxpayer money.

For instance, last year, 99 boys and girls participated in basketball. At the credit of $40 per student, the basketball booster club would be credited $3,960 and would have to reimburse the district that much less at the end of the year.

Since the district already paid for the coaching fee, with the credit, there wouldn't actually be any money moving from the district to the booster clubs, it's just that much less the clubs would have to pay the district in the end.

Last year, the district collected $29,000 in activity fees. "It's to offset the cost," Jepson said. "It's not going to alleviate it."

At first Cheney suggested the board limit the wording to coaches for seventh and eighth grade sports, but it was pointed out that many, if not all, of the activities don't have a specific coach for those two grades. The board agreed to take out verbiage that would limit it to certain grade coaches and have it for coaching staff in general.

The board also brought up the fact that some students qualify for free and reduced fees, and if the district should be giving back the $40 for that participant when they didn't have to pay the activity fee in the first place.

Dean of Students Troy Haugen and Principal Rob Nudell said it's not worth it to figure out which sport has how many participants getting free and reduced, and that the board would be "splitting hairs" trying to determine that. Haugen said it would be easier for the board to just set an amount to credit the clubs and let it go.

The board unanimously agreed to the change, and also agreed to visit the issue on an annual basis. It will go into effect retroactively for the 2011-12 school year.