TASD adopts policies on booster clubs and volunteers

The Tyrone Area School board and administration have been working for several months on new policies related to booster clubs and volunteers.
That work led to the adoption of the policies earlier this week at the board’s regular meeting.
School board members have discussed the issue at work sessions and committee meetings. District administrators also held a meeting to allow booster club representatives to voice their concerns.
At a late October work session, administrators floated the idea to limit the amount of fundraisers a booster club could conduct each year. One school board member, Peter Dutrow, expressed concern with that idea. Administrators wanted to limit the total amount of fundraisers per year to three for each booster organization.
Administrators have said some of the policy is being directed by government initiatives including the nutritional value of foods sold by boosters during sporting events.
The adopted version of the policy states, “Booster organizations involved in concessions at school events are encouraged to follow district guidelines as well as the district’s nutritional wellness initiative policy.” Before the change, the policy said booster organizations “shall” follow the guidelines and the wellness initiative.
Superintendent Dr. William N. Miller cited “No Child Left Behind” as another federal directive that generated hundreds of policies that need to be addressed. Miller said some of the issues haven’t been addressed regarding booster clubs and other issues for eight to 10 years.
Miller also expressed concern that there have been internal conflicts or other unresolved issues among booster club members from time to time. He explained that the district is sometimes asked to act as mediator.
In December, the district furthered their work on the booster club policy when a presentation was held for representatives of the many booster clubs that promote a variety of activities.
Business administrator Cathy Peachey outlined the policy during the meeting with the booster club representatives.
She explained under the policy, organizations would have to submit a general plan of operation for the school year during the summer. The plan would have to include a list of officers, an estimate of annual expenses and disbursements, as well as a proposed listing of fundraising and activities for the group. Policies were also outlined for financial record keeping.
Peachey noted, “We do not want financial authority or anything over the booster clubs. It’s just a matter of us being able to get information.”
The policy also noted that exceptions to the “three fundraising projects per year” provision would be reviewed and approved by the administration on a case-by-case basis. It was pointed out that concession stand activities and membership drives are not considered as one of the three fundraising activities per year. The rule applies to activities that include direct solicitation of the public.
Some booster club representatives raised concerns regarding some of the requirements of the policy. Concerns were expressed regarding a proposed Aug. 15 deadline for having information to administrators. Some booster clubs have not traditionally met for planning purposes for an upcoming year by that point because their activities don’t occur until later in the year. Peachey urged them to consider meeting earlier.
When the policy was adopted at the board meeting earlier this week, the district decided to place an even earlier deadline on the submission of a general plan of operation. In the final version of the policy, an Aug. 1 date is required.
Concerns were also expressed over the length of time required to notify administrators about changes or additional fund raising activities that might be needed during the school year. The policy calls for booster clubs to notify the district 60 days prior to a change or additional fund raising activity.
Other concerns were expressed at the December meeting including the length of time it is takes to get approval for use of school facilities.
A discussion also ensued about the type of activities for which booster clubs would be required to have insurance coverage. In the proposed version of the policy, the district wanted to require each organization to maintain coverage recommended by the district with a requirement to submit proof on insurance on an annual basis.
In the adopted version, the policy states booster organizations sanctioned by the school board “will be afforded liability coverage by the school’s policy.”
It noted, “if the activities are approved by the board or are normal and reasonable activities” the district’s coverage would apply. The adopted policy also stated “activities involving alcoholic beverages are not sanctioned by the board” and the district’s coverage would not be provided for such events.
The board also adopted a policy concerning school volunteers. The policy defines the difference between a short-term and long-term volunteer and sets forth requirements for each.
A short-term volunteer was defined as a person who provides service to the district on an infrequent basis and/or has limited contact with students. Short-term volunteers are also required to work with students under direct supervision of a district employee.
Long-term volunteers were defined as someone who provides service on a recurring basis and has repeated contact with students. Such volunteers could be “reasonably expected” to work with students with or without direct supervision of a district employee.
Short-term volunteers are required to complete a disclosure form while long-term volunteers must submit a disclosure form and have background checks for criminal and child abuse history at their own costs.
The policy provides for reimbursement for the background check once a long-term volunteer has completed 25 or more hours of service.