Do You Know Where Your Booster Club Money Goes?

by Michael Garcia on May 1, 2015

In the below Chicago Tribune article entitled, "District 95 seeks clarifications on how booster groups spend money," author Laura Pavin talks about the confusion that parents have when questions to the district about where booster club money goes cannot be answered.  One of the main issues that arises from this lack of booster club transparency and accountability is potential embezzlement by the booster club officials, which is, unfortunately, a common occurrence when there are no checks and balances within these organizations. 

Parents also get upset when they are charged by the school for participation fees, and then they are hit up again by booster clubs.  All of the sudden, a child's interest in an art or athletic activity becomes a big-time investment.  In the least, this type of expenditure puts further financial stress on families, and at most, prevents the child from playing or participating in activities of his or her choice due to cost.

Funding should never prevent a family or a child from participating in an activity of their choice.  Things do cost money but that is why booster clubs exist...not to double charge families, but to sustainably raise the requisite funds that will allow each child an opportunity to participate and garner the unparalleled benefits that arts and athletics provide.

District 95 seeks clarifications on how booster groups spend money

April 3, 2015 - By Laura Pavin

The next time someone asks the District 95 School Board a question about how and where their booster clubs are spending their money, officials would like to have answers.

District 95 Superintendent Mike Egan and school board members Kathy Brown and Lisa Warren held a subcommittee meeting on March 31 with representatives from football, baseball, softball and poms booster organizations, among others, aimed at getting those answers — understanding how the booster clubs and parent organizations worked and what purpose they served.

More of the groups present were 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, meaning donations to them are tax deductible, like the Quarterback Club, Band Boosters of Lake Zurich, Pom Boosters. Others were simply nonprofit organizations without tax-deductible status. Another, the Lake Zurich High School Diamond Club, was a 501(c)(7), a nonprofit social club that cannot accept tax deductible donations.

As some of the clubs laid out their reasoning for certain purchases like uniforms and balls, for example, Brown suggested that, going forward, the heads of the extracurricular activities and district officials communicate more about which needs would be better categorized as a district expense versus a boosters expense.

Brown noted that the district kicked about $1.5 million per year toward extracurriculars that were not covered by fees.

When one of the booster organizations expressed confusion about why the subcommittee meeting was being held, Brown explained that the board had many reasons.

"We want to have a certain comfort level with the booster organizations' operations so that when parents ask questions, we have a better sense of what's going on," Brown said. "We've had a couple of instances over the last three years where parents have asked questions about what some of the boosters' money was being spent on, and couldn't really get good answers on that."

For example, parents have asked the district why they have to pay money on top of the base fee to participate in extracurriculars.

She added that the district and some of its booster clubs have had somewhat of a strange relationship "because they're really not part of the district, though they are certainly associated with it. But legally, there's a separation."

The information gathered from the meeting, along with that from another meeting the subcommittee will be holding with the remainder of the district's booster organizations at a different time, will be taken into account and discussed by the school board as it restructures the district's policy governing these organizations.

Earlier this year, Egan mentioned that he and staff planned to work on a policy that would require their organizations to disclose their financials on a regular basis.

Laura Pavin is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

Source: http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-zurich/news/ct-lzc-district-95-booster-clubs-tl-0409-20150403-story.html

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