LIBERTY SCHOOLS Board begins work on policy requiring bonds for clubs

A bonding requirement is an issue for the small groups that support the rural school's programs.
LIBERTY -- What officials say is an accumulation of small problems has caused the board of education to look at establishing policies for district support groups -- the booster clubs.
Superintendent Larry Prince says that while, historically, the groups have worked in cooperation with the district, there is no policy outlining their relationship with the district.
The school board conducted a work session Tuesday to get booster members' input before adopting a policy.
The regulations would affect curriculum-oriented groups such as band boosters and noncurriculum groups such as the parent-teacher organization and sports boosters.
"From the board's perspective, the majority of groups work in harmony with the district. On occasions, there have been differences," Prince explained.
In most cases, the superintendent explained, the issues focus on the lack of communication between the groups, school board and administration.
For example, activities have been scheduled without informing the principal of the building that is affected by the activity.
Or, sometimes a group purchases items such as T-shirts or sweat shirts for athletic activities and vendors send the bills to the district, which doesn't know anything about it.
"It's an accumulation of small problems over a period of time," Prince said.
The problems can be resolved through communication and coordination, he said.
Here's the concern
The superintendent stressed the board doesn't want to control the groups or their finances. The board, he added, has no jurisdiction to control them.
"The board doesn't want to spend their money," Prince asserted.
School board members, however, do think treasurers of the groups should be bonded.
It's this mandatory requirement that is causing concern among boosters because of the cost, Prince said.
"Bonding is prudent if you can afford it," said June Smallwood, president of the Liberty Diamond Club, which supports the school district's baseball and softball teams.
"I don't want to see that harm them," Smallwood said of smaller booster clubs like those in Liberty.
To address this concern, Prince said, the board may look at a threshold policy under which groups with small treasuries wouldn't be required to be bonded.
Prince said the board and administration have had a good dialogue with the groups and don't want to alienate them because of all the support the groups provide.
Rumor debunked
Maureen Massaro, president of the Liberty Gridiron Association and vice president of the Liberty PTA, said she saw last week's meeting with the school board as a positive.
"I don't have any big issues," she added.
Massaro, the mother of four, said the proposed policy "was blown out of proportion."
Some boosters are concerned because of a rumor that all the groups would be put under one umbrella.
The rumor may have been triggered, Massaro said, because a fund-raising dinner to help fund all the boosters was being put together for the first time.
"I don't know where all the negativity is coming from," Smallwood said, agreeing with Massaro that the issue is being exaggerated by some booster members.

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