Dothan High School Band

Dothan High School Band members perform during halftime show Sept. 6, 2019.

A proposed new Dothan City Schools policy that would move funds of several school-affiliated organizations under the purview of the school system is drawing opposition from booster club members.

The suggested board policy states, “An affiliated organization shall operate under the direct supervision of the local school principal and/or athletic director, and shall work collaboratively with the CSFO (Chief School Financial Officer) to adhere to operating procedures for fundraising, purchasing and encumbering funds. No funds shall be collected or deposited in accounts outside the purview of the school system.”

Addressing her group’s concern Monday night, Wolf Pack Band Boosters President Dedra Garrey said: “Our board and I are deeply concerned over the proposed policy changes concerning affiliated organizations. I do understand the need for transparency and oversight, and we have dedicated ourselves to these principles on a daily basis.”

The organization, which is in the process of reobtaining nonprofit status after joining Northview and Dothan High’s booster clubs under a new name, provides more than half of the band program’s funding.

This past year, the booster club donated approximately $41,000 compared to the school system’s $40,000 contribution.

“The money that we as parents work to raise, we as a governing body make decisions as to the best use of these funds in an environment that can change depending on need,” she said. “It absolutely requires the flexibility of autonomy. It really, really does. Things change quickly. To ask us to submit to outside control to us seems unacceptable at this time.”

Chief Operating Officer Dennis Coe and Chief Financial Officer Mike Manuel said the state has rules regarding school-affiliated organizations and that one of two requirements must be met:

» Organizations can bring funds under the purview of the chief financial officer while being subject to scrutiny of legal expenditure, but can utilize the school system’s tax-exempt status and annual auditing.

» If the organizations don’t come under the system’s supervision, they must become a nonprofit entity, gaining 501(c)(3) status, provide for an annual audit and provide a fidelity bond for its treasurer.

Coe said the band boosters and one other athletic organization subscribe to the rules, but that school officials want to standardize the procedure for the entire district and have oversight to ensure that all organizations are operating within the law and to provide a layer of protection for funds raised.

“We need to make sure that the system is performing their responsibilities on behalf of the students in the school system,” Superintendent Phyllis Edwards said.

Manuel said two organizations over the past year have come under legal scrutiny, one of which had a criminal complaint filed against it.

The proposed policy continues, “Other organizations that are affiliated with local schools including parent and booster organizations are permitted to operate or raise funds on board property or at board-sanctioned events only in conformity with board and state Department of Education policies, procedures concerning the fiscal management of such organizations.”

Coe said the rule would not allow principals or any school official to dictate how the money is spent, as that would be against the law.

Garrey said her organization would not receive a benefit by bringing its funds under the purview of the school board, but the group is willing to find middle ground.

Before the discussion, Edwards recommended tabling action on the proposed board policy so members can have further discussions with the community.

Board Chairman Mike Schmitz believes school officials will be able to find an amicable solution with the organizations.

“The Dothan Wolves Booster Club and the Band Booster Club are doing the things that the state asks for,” he said. “So, if they’re doing that, I think that’s fine. I think, though, we do need to look at those that aren’t.”

Dothan City Schools’ next scheduled work session and called board meeting is 2 p.m. Nov. 14 at Beverlye Intermediate School.

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