Trainers are top priority for IAAC

Group seeks full-time staff at all 10 county high schools

January 25, 2000|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Maintaining full-time athletic trainers at Howard County's 10 high schools is the top priority of the Interscholastic Athletic Advisory Committee.

The committee, made up mostly of parents representing each school, has met throughout the school year. Recently, it established a four-item action plan, two of which would require funding in the fiscal year 2001 operating budget.

The four items are:

A request for $50,000 to maintain trainers at every school.

A request that each school be allowed to keep 70 percent of its gate receipts. The other 30 percent would go to a central athletic fund.

That schools be allowed to pursue private funding for stadium lights.

A letter will be sent to Howard County schools superintendent Michael E. Hickey requesting an independent study on the need for full-time athletic directors.

This is the first year county schools have had full-time athletic trainers. The new budget, which will go into effect July 1, includes $100,000 to continue the program, but that is not enough, according to Howard County coordinator of athletes Don Disney.

To maintain the program of full-time trainers, Disney said an additional $5,000 per school is needed. Otherwise, Disney said, he would have to split trainers between schools.

Jim McCleary and Dr. George Brouillet will speak for the IAAC at the Feb. 3 operating budget hearing.

"The board may not be aware that the current funding is not going to maintain the program," Disney said, "and the committee will tell them otherwise."

McCleary said the IAAC made full-time trainers its top priority "for the safety of the student athlete and also the liability of the county."

Disney said having full-time trainers has benefited everyone. "It's been the most significant budget investment ever made by the school board since I've been here [1985]," Disney said.

The IAAC is asking again -- it has been turned down three times -- that gate receipts be returned to the schools. Currently, receipts for regular-season athletic events are put in a school system general fund.

"Howard County is the only district in the state that does not allow schools to keep at least part of the gate receipts," Disney said.

Anne Arundel County uses the 70-30 system that the IAAC is proposing.

In the 1989 budget, each county high school received $19,500 to replace athletic equipment and uniforms. That figure was reduced to $11,500 in the 1997 budget. It was increased last year and raised to $16,995 this year.

That is not enough, reported the IAAC, to fund 31 athletic teams at every high school. The IAAC is proposing that the current funding level ($16,995) be maintained, and that each school be allowed to keep 70 percent of its gate receipts. The other 30 percent would be put in an athletic fund to purchase large equipment -- such as soccer goals and pole vault pits -- and help other schools that don't get large gates.

The projected gate receipts this year are $130,000. The additional $9,100 per school (70 percent) would give each school $26,095, a figure the IAAC believes is necessary to support a safe and comprehensive athletic program.

The IAAC believes that community spirit and attendance would improve if people knew their money was supporting their home school. It also believes that fund-raising would diminish.

Members of the IAAC will speak about gate receipts at the operating budget hearing.

Howard High is the only county school with stadium lights. For years, community members have tried to get the school board to allow other schools to install lights.

The IAAC is pushing the idea again and will have two speakers address the board of education at its 7: 30 p.m. listening post Thursday.

"We want the board to allow schools to fund their own stadium lights for Friday evening games," said McCleary. "We don't want to disrupt the academic week. We are recommending games only on Friday nights."

Hickey is scheduled to report on expanding lighted stadiums on Feb. 24. He has given no indication in the past that he is in favor of having lights installed in more stadiums.

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