Booster clubs are a critical element for school teams and clubs – raising money for trips, food, fees, and other needs – but because they are not technically part of the school system the relationship can be a challenge.
“But they do represent the school, and there is a public perception they are part of the school,” Pickens Schools Assistant Superintendent Chris Parker said speaking at a called board meeting Friday, Feb. 2, “…and because of that perception, the school system has some oversight over those groups….we don’t really tell them what to do because they have a high level of autonomy, but there has to be some oversight.”
Regarding booster clubs, Parker first touched on benefits they provide. He called them an important part of the school system, supportive of students, and engaged, but they also provide a more efficient way to support students in extracurriculars.
“When we want to go get the basketball team Chick-fil-A after the game, the school is not really able to do that without [purchase orders] and quotes,” he said. “That’s where the booster club originated many years ago — let’s [be able to] go get the teams some things with just writing a check.”
Parker proposed a set of guidelines that include more specific procedures than what they have had in the past. They outline establishment and operation of a booster club; require school principal approval of the club; in addition to other guidelines such as an annual review of procedures; having bylaws, board members, and other procedures on file with the school system; having all fundraisers approved; having meetings open to the public; and prohibiting funds from being co-mingled with personal accounts.
“My experience is that very few times do people violate these kinds of things on purpose,” he said. “It’s not as prevalent as you think…education is big part of what we identify as a problem…people not understanding what they can and can’t do. [For example], you can’t take two checks for $200 and then write the school a check for $400.”
Parker said ideally all of these requirements should have been happening already and that having them written out will help compliance, then discussed a new mandate — semi-annual meetings of representatives of all booster clubs with the athletic director.
“They would just collaborate, just by being in the same room,” he said. “Sometimes the athletic director talking to the football booster club may help the tennis booster club or soccer booster club with something they haven’t even thought of before.”
The draft is expected to be finalized soon and made available to interested parties.
Dual enrollment numbers continue to grow
Students in the dual enrollment program at Pickens High School have reached critical numbers, according to the program director who sees a need for additional resources and manpower to accommodate the growing interest.
“We’re getting into a tight place of being able to serve students,” said Pickens Schools College & Career Readiness Coach Daniel Bell. “When I’m asked to speak to a class about the program it makes me nervous, because half the class is going to want to go back with me to the office to sign up.”
Through the traditional Dual Enrollment [DE] program students can earn credit for college classes, technical programs, and earn certificates while in high school. Many of the classes are at the Chattahoochee Tech campus.
Bell has 190 active DE student folders in his office now, and that number could reach 250 by fall of next year.
The DE program barely existed in the Pickens school system a decade ago, when just 14 students were enrolled in spring of 2014. Fast forward to spring of 2024 and there are 178 total students enrolled, 108 who are college/core credit students and 86 who are enrolled in the skilled trade program.
By fall of 2017 the program started seeing some increased numbers when a counselor came on staff who encouraged some efforts, but it wasn’t until after Bell’s position of College & Career Coach was created in 2019 – and the trade and DE advocate created a stronger program – that enrollment took off. Enrollment hovered around the 60 student mark during COVID years, then increased to 79 by spring 2022; 117, by fall 2022; 134, spring 2023; 176, fall 2023; 178, spring 2024.
Overall enrollment at the high school is actually down slightly, while DE numbers continue to rise.
Looking ahead, Bell is wondering if the school system might have to look at capping DE students, have some kind of qualifying for the program, or find another solution, “because the numbers are not going to stop.” He pitched the possibility of a Georgia College & Career Academy on campus, and utilizing the old Ag Barn for the program that could include the addition employees for both instruction and operations.
“If this is a possibility, we want to see what we can do with it, and what are the ‘what if’s,” he said.
According to the Georgia Department of Education, these academies are a partnership between the local school system, a technical college or post-secondary institution, and business leaders “to ensure the fulfillment of its workforce development mission specific to each community.”
Bell presented a plethora of workforce statistics that show that 70 percent of the national workforce are health and technical professions with a highest education having certificates or associates degrees. Specific to Pickens County, 2020 data presented shows 15.5 percent of the workforce is in the manufacturing sector and 15.2 percent is in health care and social assistance, and that projections show shortages in the health care field/nursing which Bell said could be a “crisis.” After those sectors, retail/trade is at 13.4 percent of Pickens population; construction at 7.64 percent; and education at 7.25 percent.
Bell said the on-campus career academy would have strong oversight from the Georgia College & Career Academies, as well as potential for funding support. No decisions were made at the meeting, but the board was left with information to review and discuss.
Booster club guidelines to get boost on oversight; Dual enrollment student numbers continue to grow
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