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Schools audit sports spending for fairness

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Richmond County school officials are auditing high school athletic funding dating back five years after questions were raised about accountability and fairness in how the money has been doled out.

Some school board members say that, in part, they hope to find out which schools are receiving what funding and determine whether some schools have requested more funds annually because sports equipment or other items have gone missing.

School board member Frank Dolan, who requested the audit of county schools from athletic director George Bailey, says he often gets complaints from parents and booster club members who say favoritism is shown to certain schools when it comes to sports funding. He said he would like the audit to shed light on exactly how sports money is being handled.

"I want to have the entire population of Richmond County to understand where the money comes from and where it flows and have it 100 percent protected," Mr. Dolan said.

At issue, he said, are three main sources for athletic funding: independent money raised by booster clubs, budgeted central office money and sporting event gate proceeds. He said the audit won't address booster funds because those aren't controlled by the school system.

Some school officials have said more funding goes to certain schools because they have a more effective booster club or greater gate returns from sporting events. Others also have contended it has to do with which schools are requesting more money.

According to data obtained by The Chronicle through an open-records request, Richmond County high schools requested and have been granted by the school system the following total for sport equipment and jerseys this school year: Academy of Richmond County, $9,208; Butler, $20,978; Cross Creek, $9,681; Glenn Hills, $16,378; T.W. Josey, $11,312; Lucy C. Laney, $11,262; and Westside, $10,994.

School system spokesman Louis Svehla, however, says a one-year snapshot doesn't provide enough information because it doesn't show which schools ordered items in previous years and didn't need them this school year. He said the growth of interest in a particular sport in a given year also could cause one school to request more funds for jerseys.

That's one reason for having the audit go back five years.

Mr. Dolan said he also hopes the audit provides information on how gate returns are being divvied up.

"That's one of the things I want to know," he said, adding that an average high school football game brings in between $7,000 and $10,000 in gate returns.

Officials say the audit also could help board members see whether some schools repeatedly request funds to replace missing materials.

"If a particular school continues to lose their uniforms or equipment, then it needs to stop," said school board member Alex Howard. "We do not have the money to keep funding the same schools for not taking care of their equipment without any consequences."

At a recent school board committee meeting, Mr. Bailey told board members many items are received during the summer, when there's no centralized place for deliveries.

"We have found equipment in custodian lockers," he said.

Mr. Svehla said the issue is being addressed. He said that in some cases student theft or break-ins might result in missing items, but he said that doesn't seem to be a major factor in sports funding requests.

Mr. Howard said one excuse sometimes given for why some schools receive less is that some coaches might not request as much as others.

"For me, if you go back to 2005, then this will either prove or discount the notion that coaches may forget to order uniforms or equipment for that particular year," he said.

Mr. Howard said he would also like to know how much each sport costs the school system. According to Richmond County school records obtained by The Chronicle for this school year, the breakdown in central office funding per sport for middle and high schools is as follows: football, $64,096; basketball, $24,225; baseball, $18,662; softball, $14,218; track, $9,893; wrestling, $5,797; soccer, $5,559; and volleyball, $2,855. Mr. Svehla said tennis and golf weren't listed because individual schools, and not the central office, typically provide funding. These sports cost significantly less because players often provide their own equipment.

Ultimately, Mr. Dolan and Mr. Howard said, they're not trying to make a big issue of the matter but believe some fact finding is in order to move beyond the complaints.

"It's not a gotcha or anything like this," Mr. Dolan said, adding that with grades and past discipline problems improving, "We're just now kind of working down to the second-tier level, and I think this is a second-tier level (issue)."

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

SPORTS' COSTS

According to Richmond County school records obtained by The Chronicle for this school year, the central office has provided nearly $150,000 for eight middle and high school sports, with about 60 percent of the money going to football and basketball.

SPORT - FUNDING

Football - $64,096

Basketball - $24,225

Baseball - $18,662

Softball - $14,218

Track - $9,893

Wrestling - $5,797

Soccer - $5,559

Volleyball - $2,855

Total - $145,305

Note: Tennis and golf aren't listed because individual schools -- not the central office -- typically provide funding, according to school system spokesman Louis Svehla. Players in these sports typically provide their own equipment, he said.

REQUESTS GRANTED

According to data obtained by The Chronicle through an open-records request, nearly $90,000 has been requested by the seven Richmond County high schools for sports equipment and jerseys this school year. The school system granted all requests.

SCHOOL - AMOUNT

Academy of - Richmond County - $9,208

Butler - $20,978

Cross Creek - $9,681

Glenn Hills - $16,378

T.W. Josey - $11,312

Lucy C. Laney - $11,262

Westside - $10,994

Total - $89,813

Comments (14) Add comment
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wildman
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wildman 11/02/09 - 04:11 am
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laney has a state of the art

laney has a state of the art stadium and everybody else has normal at best.

WhippingPost
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WhippingPost 11/02/09 - 04:21 am
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That's a pretty nice stadium

That's a pretty nice stadium for just over $11k. I guess certain things aren't included as "sports funding" if they're "multi-use". I wonder what else, through out the system, is excluded.

AnotherPerspective
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AnotherPerspective 11/02/09 - 06:05 am
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The Laney stadium was built

The Laney stadium was built through the school SPLOST, which voters approved and the school board was legally bound to construct.

Martinez
154
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Martinez 11/02/09 - 06:46 am
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Mr. Dolan - What game really

Mr. Dolan - What game really brings in $ 7000 - $ 10,000 in RC? Seriously? Do you really believe that between 1166 and 1666 people attend the average game in RC? Maybe when RC plays a strong CC team like LHS or EVS. I have been to plenty of games in RC and the home side attendance is rarely heavy and in some cases almost non-existant. Add to that - you need to make sure the ticket sellers can count. At Hephzibah I bought two tickets with a $ 20. The change should have been $ 8. The ticket seller gave $ 12. After trying several times to explain the error, while getting attitude from the seller...... I walked away with $ 12. After talking to several other people, I learned they too had done the same and also could not convince the seller she was wrong.

Martinez
154
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Martinez 11/02/09 - 06:58 am
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Also notable is the

Also notable is the statement: many items are received during the summer, when there's no centralized place for deliveries. Sports conditioning should be year round. You would be hard pressed to find any summer day that at least one sports coach or team isn't at school conditioning during the summer in CC. Whether baseball, softball, basketball or volleyball - - - whether Greenbrier, Evans, Lakeside etc...the school is a central place for student activity year round. It's a lot harder to lose track of equipment, uniforms etc when you keep track of the students during the off season too.

JustMe
0
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JustMe 11/02/09 - 08:44 am
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Did it say 7-10k each game? I

Did it say 7-10k each game? I thought that was for the season.

disssman
6
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disssman 11/02/09 - 09:40 am
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The budget for 2009 shows a

The budget for 2009 shows a figure 0f about 8 million dollars for main trans/ warehouse personnel. I wonder why these folks aren't working in the summer getting things ready for the next school year. I mean afterall their jobs don't rely on kids being in classes like a teacher. It would appear that the super has fallen down in the accountability game. Do they have any written procedures for accounting for equipment the public has purchased? If they don't have a central receiving and distribution center, how in the world are they accounting for anything? If equipment is being sent directly to schools, no wonder they are finding it in custodian lockers. BTW were any custodians found with questionable items, removed for attempted theft? This murkyness must be the transparency Mr. Svehla was talking about recently.

bettyboop
7
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bettyboop 11/02/09 - 09:53 am
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Wow ..I bet when this is over

Wow ..I bet when this is over withe some heads are gonna roll...that is if they actually do an indepth look at the whole system.,bet your going to find ..theft...ignorance...nepitism and plain old "thats the way we have always done it".....follow this one close folks it's gonna be a hoot !!

Riverman1
93345
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Riverman1 11/02/09 - 11:23 am
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I wouldn't make too big of a

I wouldn't make too big of a deal about this. The athletic departments are no different than the other departments in turmoil in the county schools. Butler can't keep a coach and can't get players to consistently come to practice. Let's quietly help them straighten their accounting out and help the programs all we can. Possibly a centralized way to manage purchasing and control of athletic equipment. I'd love to see a Jody Grooms type coach show up at Butler and turn the program around.

Riverman1
93345
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Riverman1 11/02/09 - 11:59 am
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Martinez, I'd bet ARC has

Martinez, I'd bet ARC has that many fans per football game. I think that's accurate.

Mr. Thackeray
957
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Mr. Thackeray 11/02/09 - 12:26 pm
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The solution is simple and

The solution is simple and done in many states, allocate funds on athletics on a standard per student basis. Everyone gets the same rate, total based on the number of kids in the school.

whs1984
0
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whs1984 11/02/09 - 09:34 pm
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CC needs to look into their

CC needs to look into their books as well - Grovetown has a state of the art stadium while the other schools had to do fundraiseres to get what they have. Why is that. Why didn't the extra money from building Grovetown go to the other schools as well. Greenbrier had to raise money for a gym for their cheerleaders maybe if Grovetown didn't have $60,000 seats these kids could have spent more time at practice instead of having to raise money.

ironpurps
212
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ironpurps 11/02/09 - 10:28 pm
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RCBOE hasn't checked a

RCBOE hasn't checked a physical or age of player for 10 years. Only when something negative happens do they react. And don't forget the middle schools, now they don't even get the concessions for their games! Col.Co. - quit your whining, you get what you need by booster club thousands of $$$.

lifelongresidient
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lifelongresidient 11/03/09 - 07:51 am
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why not allocate funds based

why not allocate funds based on graduation rates...it's a shame when money can be forund for athletices but there isn't enuff money to make sure there are enuff textbooks or school supplies..i don't care about the amount...if ther aren't enuff supplies and/or textbooks then not one penny should be spent on anything else until there are sufficient LEARNING MATERIALS for all students...this is one of the reasons no rich cnty high school made ayp(except johnson/davidson)..put emphasis back on education..BTW if ther aren't enuff players for butler football team then why not just shut down the program....

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