Fort Mill Times

Booster clubs go for ‘pay to play’

About 76 parents last week got their first peek at a proposed plan that seeks to keep Fort Mill middle school sports alive.

Under the not-for-profit plan, participation fees will be collected from athletes to cover the cost of running specific sports. That would generate about $75,000.

“My hope is that we will be able to continue with middle school sports,” Lisa McCarley, president of the Fort Mill Middle School booster club, said after the presentation.

Added to that amount would be a $2,000 start up fund to be collected from each of the three existing booster clubs. All told, the Fort Mill School District Athletic Board, a group that will represent each of the Fort Mill middle school’s athletic booster clubs, expects to have about $81,000 in their budget, McCarley said.

Expected expenses make allowances for coaches supplements, $61,875; bus transportation, $10,000, and athletic director supplement of $6,000. Total expenses are projected to run about $77,875, leaving the FMSDAB with a $3,125 cash reserve, according to a proposal the group presented last week and emailed to the media.

“Some of the details are still to be finalized,” McCarley said. “We still feel pretty good about the proposal.”

Earlier last month, the Fort Mill School Board took action on several recommended cuts to make up for anticipated shortfalls for the 2010-2011 school district budget. Middle school sports and a slew of other programs and positions got the ax. District officials contend that eliminating middle school sports would help the district realize a savings of $190,686.

But, there is a problem. Some Fort Mill parents and students contend that without middle school sports, raw student talent goes undeveloped and high schools lose a base from which to draw varsity athletes.

While participation fees, estimated at $100 per 750 athletes, will make allowances for running a given sport, the rest will be provided by the school’s booster club, according to the pay to play proposal.

That proposal notes each middle school will maintain its current booster club. Fundraising efforts from each booster club will offset relative costs for each team. Furthermore, gate receipts also will be used to provide a steady stream of income to offset the operating expenses of each team.

That means the middle school booster clubs under the proposal will recognize about a $5,500 cash reserve and have about $19,500 in expenses, including about $4,000 for officials; $7,000 for equipment; $3,500 for insurance and $5,000 for miscellaneous items such as scholarships.

Revenue for each booster club is anticipated to be about $24,000. That figure includes $14,000 in gate fees as well as $5,000 from concessions and other fundraising efforts and $5,000, which represents each booster club’s current balance minus FMSDAB start up fee of $2,000.

If the proposal is approved by the school board, the FMSDAB will be formed by June 1. The athletic director will be hired a month later followed by fall coaches. The FMSDAB is slated to present is proposal during the school boards’ April 12 meeting.