Salem puts sports booster clubs all on one team

SALEM – Booster efforts for all Salem school district sports teams will consolidate under the Salem Athletic Boosters umbrella, with coordinated fundraisers to address the needs of every sport, the school board announced.

“All the sports are represented and nobody’s losing anything in the transition process,” board member Howard Rohleder said.

During a special meeting Thursday, the board designated the Salem Athletic Boosters as the only authorized booster organization for the school district’s sports programs, consolidating sport specific groups under one group.

Superintendent Tom Bratten explained that many of the sports had their own groups raising funds on their behalf, with separate accounts maintained by the school district treasurer. Treasurer Jim Wilson said that in most districts, the booster club operates outside of the school, but for some reason several years ago, the funds for the various sport specific groups were placed in accounts in the Salem school district.

He thought it would be worth the effort to move those accounts outside of the school district, noting new guidelines from the state auditor pertaining to how 501(c)(3) groups should operate and new rules from the Ohio High School Athletic Association on how game workers are paid.

Rohleder, who sits on the board’s audit and finance committee with board vice president Steve Bailey, said each sport which had accounts will still have its own funds under the Salem Athletic Boosters, but under the new plan, each sport group will be limited to two fundraisers per year which will have to be coordinated and approved by the Booster Board.

He said this will avoid duplication and could lead to more successful fundraising. Previously, the groups had as many fundraisers as they wanted, but now efforts will be more focused. Groups can join together.

“I think the main issue is to reduce all this fragmentation,” he said, noting it’s also harder to find volunteers when they’re being pulled in so many different directions.

The school board started planning for the consolidation over several months, working in conjunction with the Salem Athletic Boosters, the varsity coaches and the different sport specific booster groups. A task force comprised of all those coaches, booster groups, satellite booster clubs, the school administration and board members worked on the plan, which has been accepted by the school board and the Salem Athletic Boosters Board.

A press release issued about the consolidation said new board members representing each sport will be invited to join the booster board. The school board will have a liaison to the booster board, too.

“The Booster Club will maintain a separate account for each sport for the funds they raise with a portion of each fundraiser going to the general fund to pay for uniform costs and equipment benefitting all Salem High School sports,” the release said.

Rohleder said the groups had been paying 20 percent before and will continue to contribute 20 percent from fundraisers into a fund to help all sports. Wilson said once everything is finalized, the next step will be for the board to authorize him to distribute the funds from the various sports group accounts to the Salem Athletic Boosters.

Bratten said the district needs more help with basic necessities for sports teams and they need a joint effort for that. He said only the football team and boys basketball team are self-sufficient, with the district counting on those two sports to cover the costs for the other sports as well.

The press release said that as costs for sports increased, “the board recognized a need to consolidate booster activity so that future needs could be met. The cost of fielding teams continues to increase with regulatory requirements that address everything from equipment safety to on-field personnel.”

In existence since 1977, the Salem Athletic Boosters fund many aspects of the sports programs, such as year-end banquets, senior recognition, trophy costs and equipment requests for individual sports. The major fundraisers are the football concession stand and the fall and winter sports programs.

Membership in the Salem Athletic Boosters is open to anyone donating $10 or more. A membership form can be found online at City SD.