Wolfpack Band Boosters concerned about Dothan City School Board reconsidering extracurricular activity funding

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Oct. 28, 2019 at 11:43 PM CDT
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Now that we are a few months into school, the Dothan City School Board is taking time to look at some policies that may be in need of updates.

On Monday night's agenda - extracurricular activity funding, low risk sex offenders and school admissions.

The issues were all tabled so they could hear more from the people they would affect.

One of those policies has already attracted quite a bit of attention.

"The band kids, when we come in with pizza or whatever, they're like, "Ms. Dedra! Ms. Dedra!" It's amazing,” said Wolfpack Band Boosters Inc. President Dedra Garrey. “They know us. They love us."

Dedra Garrey and the rest of the Wolfpack Band Boosters handle more than $40,000 a year to support the 123 students in the Dothan High School band.

She says they've never had any issues with finances or any of their members, which is why the latest policy proposal by Dothan City Schools has her taken aback.

The board is considering a policy amendment that would make school-affiliated organizations operate under the supervision of the school.

"For us, it's not about control per-say,” said Garrey. “It's about availability. We know what we're working for. We know where those assets need to go."

Right now, the organizations operate like non-profits, without needing permission to spend money.

The new policy would require a principal or athletic director to be notified when funds are collected and before they are spent.

"To ensure that you don't have instances of abuse, or individuals in other parts of the state where individuals in booster organizations leave and take money with them,” said Dothan City School Chief Operating Officer Dennis Coe. “They leave the parents there holding the bag with all the hard work and no funds to show for it."

Coe says they would give organizations a pre-paid card before any events that would allow for unexpected costs like food or sudden equipment issues.

He even argues the oversight would benefit the organizations.

"It allows the booster entities to utilize the schools system's tax exempt status,” said Coe. “It frees them of the burden of having to pay for individual audit."

The Wolfpack Band Boosters are already a 501(c)(3), so the tax exempt wouldn't do anything for them.

"I can't think of anything it would do for us other than really tie our hands,” said Garrey.

Both Coe and Garrey told the school board there could be a potential compromise here.

Something like if an organization is a 501(c)(3) and completes their own audit annually, they could operate independently and otherwise would have to come under the school's umbrella.

The board tabled all three policies at tonight's meeting so they could get a month of input from the school district community before making a decision.

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