Parents float trial balloon for football, volleyball
The forum is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23, at the Pollock Center, near Community Presbyterian Church. Tonya May, a stay-at-home mother and school volunteer who is organizing the meeting, said she wants to rally support for football and volleyball. She said folks who are against the idea should feel free to attend the meeting and voice their opinions.
May, who has four children in H.G. Olsen Elementary School, said she is organizing the event because she wants to see the sports implemented in the school district. She said she personally has spoken to at least 30 other Port Aransans who also want the sports at PAISD.
May said the Port Aransas High School and Brundrett Middle School cross-country programs that take place from August to mid-November are valuable. But football and volleyball would attract students who aren't interested in cross-country, she said.
In addition, May said, introducing football could open additional opportunities for the school district, like creation of a marching band.
As envisioned, football at PAISD would be for boys, and volleyball would be for girls. May pointed out that one sport can't be established without the other, because U.S. law forbids federally funded schools from providing unequal sports opportunities for boys and girls.
May said she hopes to approach the Port Aransas Independent School District Board of Trustees with a proposal in March.
Rick Adams, president of the PAISD Board of Trustees, said he is neither for nor against adding the sports and will have to hear more information on the idea before forming an opinion.
PAISD Athletic Director Steve Reaves echoed Doughty's remarks, stating no position on the matter other than saying that he would put together football and volleyball programs if directed to do so by trustees.
"The reality is, I'm here to serve the community," Reaves said. "So, if the community wants a football program, then I'm here to do it. If not, then I won't."
May said she is in the process of researching just how much money volleyball and football programs would cost the school district.
PAISD is a property-rich school district, but state Robin Hood laws require that the district give up more than half of its tax revenue for distribution to poorer districts. As a result, PAISD - like nearly all Texas school districts - constantly is working to make the money its retains go as far as possible.
"Almost everything is budgetdriven," Adams said. "But, certainly, we're charged with looking at all those things that will make the district better. If (more extra-curricular activities) are something will make the district better for whatever reason, we might need to consider them."
A football program would cost far more than a volleyball program. Doughty said a high school football program would require at least four coaches and that the current coaches at PAISD already have full coaching and teaching schedules.
The salaries of four new coaches would add up to more than $150,000 each year, Doughty said.
Pettus ISD Athletic Director Stephen Marbach said a new football coach also could double as a teacher, which would mean the district might not lose so much money. The new coach/teacher could fill an alreadyexisting position that could open if the teacher already occupying the slot resigns.
But whether enough attrition would take place and how much teaching and coaching positions could be reshuffled remains a question.
PAISD also would have to find a place for football players to play. Establishing a stadium with bleachers, lighting and other features could be expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. The school district also would have to buy uniforms, equipment and other materials.
Marbach estimated that Pettus spends $15,000 to $25,000 each year on football needs including equipment, field maintenance, reconditioning of helmets and pay for the officials who referee the games.
While football costs about ten times more than any other sport at Pettus, it also brings in much more in revenue from ticket-paying fans, Marbach said. A basketball game might bring in a few hundred dollars. A football game usually brings in a few thousand dollars, Marbach said.
May said she believes PAISD could apply for grants and possibly propose a bond issue to voters for some football expenses.
While a bond issue could not pay for salaries, it could provide for a capital improvement project like a stadium.
Football supporters also might need to engage in "fundraising, as much as we can," May said.
May also suggested that a football program could begin relatively small and inexpensively, possibly starting with only a seventh-grade team and then gradually adding teams as years go by.
May said adding football and volleyball programs actually could bring money into the district by attracting more parents to enroll their students in PAISD. Districts that lose enrollment can, as a result, lose state and federal money and mean giving away more money due to Robin Hood laws.
If PAISD established a football team, Port Aransas likely would play against its current district rivals in basketball, like Pettus, Falls City, Woodsboro and Yorktown, Reaves said. It's also possible that a Marlin football team would play against teams from Ben Bolt and Kingsville Academy, he said.
May said folks with questions about the upcoming forum may contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.