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Football scores financial windfall
By Kim Becker
The Board of Education commended the administration for a thoughtful and goal-oriented budget that comes just under the 2.0 percent increase imposed by the Board of Finance. However, strong disagreement arose about Superintendent Alan Addley’s proposed line item for the Granby football team. The Granby High School Football Supporters Board has been vocal in its insistence on financial equity for the team, asking for $420 per player or $18,900 in the 2014-15 budget. Addley proposed $2,500 for transportation and waiving the $75 pay-to-play fee for the 45-member team for a total of $5,875. In response, the Football Supporters released a statement saying they “disagree with the budget and do not support the same.”
Several members of the board agreed with them that too little was allocated. Jenny Emery, Melissa Migliaccio, Mark Fiorentino and Rosemary Weber strongly supported more money for the football program. Emery stated that football “is a Granby program and should be funded.” Additionally, she asked the board to consider raising the total increase from 1.9 to 2.0, giving football $14,000. While that idea was rejected, the board redistributed money from the small capital budget to the operating budget to give the program an additional $3,867 next year. Therefore, the overall education budget was amended to give football a total of $9,742 or approximately $216 per player.
The $3,867 was reallocated from a failed administration proposal to install cameras and editing equipment in the Central Office to broadcast public meetings at a cost of $35,000 over several years. The administration then wanted to keep the money in the technology area of the budget and use it to lease technology carts with 25 Chromebooks each at the high school, Wells Road and Kelly Lane schools as well as replace aging servers and network switches. The lease for FY 2014-15 would have been $3,867.
Ben Perron and Ron Walther disagreed. They felt that in a tight budget year football should not be given any additional money. Perron made a strong case that if additional money was available, all items that remain unfunded in the 2015 budget should be considered, including the arts and technology carts for the high school and intermediate schools. Walther concurred and reminded the Board that no funding promises had been made to the football program by the board or the district. Addley added that because football has moved to campus, the team now enjoys some benefits such as access to the high school trainer, no transportation costs for practices at Ahrens Field, and increased profits from admissions and concessions that stay with the Supporters. Unlike other sports, except for special events, the football program keeps gate receipts and concession profits to augment their activities.
The Board then returned to the request from the football supporters group. The amended budget moved the $3,867 from technology in the small capital budget to the operating budget under the Student Activity fund for use by the football program. The amended budget was approved unanimously.
The Football Supporters released the following statement after the vote, "The Granby High School Football Board of Directors is thankful to the members of the Board of Education who feel that football has proven itself worthy of their support as football enters its 7th season as a program. While we have not attained equity with all other sports programs that currently exist, the BOE steps of late have been positive in that respect. We support the Budget as currently proposed."