March 22, 2014

Rock Hill School Board to vote on policy affecting school support organizations

The proposed policy alters who can serve as officers and who provides oversight to non-school sponsored support organizations.

The Rock Hill School Board will vote Monday on a policy that would prevent district employees from serving as officers in organizations such as booster clubs and PTOs and would add more oversight on how these programs operate.

The proposal, officially called Policy LEB: Non-School Sponsored Support Organizations, has drawn more attention than any other policy in recent years, said board chairman Jim Vining and vice-chairman Walter Brown.

The district has guidelines stating district employees shouldn't be organization officers who handled money, such as a president or treasurer, because of the possibility of a conflict of interest over allowing employees to handle funds that ultimately go to school activities, Brown said.

A district auditor recommended the guidelines become official policies.

While the argument about district employees not handling money is understandable, Barbara Burbulak, co-president of the Rock Hill High School Band Boosters, said she doesn’t understand why all officer positions should be off limits to employees.

“We’re all volunteers,” Burbulak said. “I don’t think it should be dictated what we’re allowed to do.”

What some understood to be a simple personnel policy change has turned into much more, said Northwestern High School Band Booster president-elect Butch Bailey.

“With the wording of the rest of the policy, they’re basically trying to take control over what the booster organizations are trying to do,” he said.

Brown, who helped write the policy – modeled after a similar one in Spartanburg School District 6 – said this is a misconception.

“There is nothing in the policy to give anyone the opportunity, or authority, to take over these clubs,” he said.

At Monday’s meeting, board member Ginny Moe said she will not vote for the policy, preferring to table the issue and form a committee with principals, administrators and parents because some people don’t yet realize how it might affect these groups.

“It’s too broad,” she said because the policy, as currently written, doesn’t properly define non-school sponsored organizations.

Any vote on this policy will be a close one, Vining said. This is the second reading of the proposal, if passed it will become official board policy.

Several people are expected to speak at Monday’s meeting.

No matter which way the vote goes, Brown said this policy alone has drawn more attention than any other in his 14 years on the Rock Hill school board.

“It’s a shame that something like this can create so much response when things that affect children and the district more than this will draw very little attention,” Brown said.

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