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Board asked to pay for athletic transportation

HEBRON – Lakewood Athletic Director Bo Hanson said his department is out of funds to transport students to and from athletic events, and he asked the Lakewood School Board if the district could pick up the tab.

“What I’m really here for is to ask you to take transportation back,” he said during the May 9 board meeting, which was held at St. Johns Lutheran Church in Franklin Township. Hanson said it’s unreasonable to ask the community to contribute to two to three fundraisers per year in addition to all other educationrelated expenses. “It’s well and above our community’s ability to do this,” he said. “I’m officially out of money. I’m in the hole. We still owe you $20,000.”

The athletic department still owes the district $20,000 for an advance it received last year. The Lakewood Athletic Boosters are raffling a 2012 Mustang V6 or $10,000. Tickets are $20 and proceeds are to pay for transportation for Lakewood athletes. The drawing will be held at the Tom Lawson Memorial Lancer Golf Outing, June 11. However, Hanson doubts ticket sales will be enough to cover the athletic department’s transportation expenses.

Covering transportation expenses became the athletic department’s responsibility when the district trimmed $1 million from its budget in 2010. Previously, Hanson said the athletic department depends upon money from ticket sales to cover expenses, and there’s not enough money being generated to pay for everything. Hanson is trying to avoid implementing a pay to play fee for students to participate in athletics. He’d prefer the district’s general fund to help cover the costs of transporting students to athletic events.

“I think we should take it back,” said board member Tim Phillips.

“This is a really, really tough decision,” said board member Tricia Good.

Board member Forrest Cooperrider said Tuesday that the board will hold a special meeting May 24 to discuss Hanson’s request. He said board members may reach a decision then, but otherwise they haven’t discussed it further.

Hanson said Wednesday that the athletic department’s current lack of funds won’t affect students for the rest of this year, but as for next year, “That’s up in the air,” he said. Much will depend upon the board’s decision. Hanson said he felt “more positive” that the board may take back the athletic transportation following the May 9 meeting than he had previously. He thanked the several parents who spoke in support of his position. “I think it was a very good meeting,” said Hanson. He said ticket sales for the Mustang raffle were a bit slow, but sales are increasing as the June 11 drawing nears.

Hanson said Lakewood currently has no pay to play policy, but there are still plenty of other expenses involved with school sports programs. “We ask a lot of our parents,” he said.

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