Large stadium with blurred seats in background

Is Bigger Always Better?

by Sandra Pfau Englund on Oct 20, 2016 03:24 pm

There are at least 20 high school stadiums in America with a seating capacity between 10,000 – 21,000. Thirteen are in Texas, four in Ohio. You could even say there’s a football stadium competition going on in Texas. The McKinney School District is building a new $70 million football stadium that will seat 12,000 and the next school district over has a $60 million stadium that seats 18,000.

As a booster-club-backer, I was relieved to learn that these stadiums are funded by tax-payer approved bond packages rather than placing the fundraising burden on the backs of volunteer parent athletic boosters. The conversation about these huge stadiums though made me wonder about whether bigger is necessarily better.

For example, how do these school districts with jumbo-tron-sized stadiums avoid Title IX claims? All federally funded schools must comply with Title IX and its equal opportunity provisions. Although Title IX doesn’t require a dollar-for-dollar match in spending on male and female sports, schools must show that there are similar opportunities for boys and girls including similarity in the quantity and quality of equipment provided, the financial support for travel, fairness in assigning and paying quality coaches, and equal facilities, such as locker rooms, fields and arenas.

Schools routinely have to deal with the balance getting tipped when, for example, a volunteer athletic booster club makes a large donation to enhance a male-sport-facility and the school doesn’t ensure that equal facilities are available for girls’ sports. When you have multiple schools in a school district sharing a huge mixed-use facility (some stadiums accommodate 7-8 high schools for football, soccer, lacrosse, and band competitions), this becomes even more complex to track.

Huge stadiums have been a part of the American high school landscape for over a century. Stadium Bowl (capacity 15,000) was built in 1910 in Tacoma, WA; Fawcett Stadium (capacity 22,400) in Canton, OH was built in 1938. In fact, half of the 20 largest stadiums I looked at were built in 1940 or before. But in this day of Title IX considerations and asking the same people who pay for the stadium to also contribute to the booster club’s fundraisers just makes me wonder, is bigger always better?



Sandra Pfau Englund

Founder of Parent Booster USA

Sandra Pfau Englund was a working mom in 2004 when she volunteered for her son’s elementary school PTO. The nonprofit and tax law attorney quickly became mired in trying to organize the group’s finances, tax-exempt status and fundraising compliance. If it was this complicated and time consuming for someone with her professional knowledge, she wondered how other parents and booster groups managed. From that experience, Parent Booster USA was born.

Sandra is a sought-after subject matter expert and has been quoted by NBC’s TODAY show and in Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, among others. She is published and speaks throughout the country on issues related to nonprofit legal liability, financial controls and audits in a post-Sarbanes-Oxley world, board development and fundraising.

Learn more at sandrapfauenglund.com.

FEATURED BLOG

Running an Effective Meeting

Sandra Pfau Englund

Aug 30, 2019

Booster club bylaws often reference Robert’s Rules of Order as the “rules” for managing a meeting. Have you ever read Robert’s Rules? It’s a good way to get a good night’s sleep!

O.k., so, having no rules leads to muddled, oftentimes chaotic meetings. On the other hand, using strict Robert’s Rules of Order can result in confusion or imbalance, dominated by those very few who understand Robert’s Rules. According to Sandra Englund, founder of Parent Booster USA, it’s far better to use a simplified form of parliamentary procedure. Using Sandy’s Simple Parlipro for Nonprofit Organizations, you provide a solid framework for your meeting that encourages everyone to participate and stops any one person from controlling it.

Meetings should not be all about the rules. According to David Gillig, Senior Vice President of Children's Hospital and Health Center in San Diego, a meeting should be 80% inspiration, learning and fun, and 20% business. Busy parents are more likely to attend if they feel as if they will gain something for themselves, and their kids, out of the meeting. We recommend that you start the meeting with something fun or educational — our parent engagement blog talks more about this.

Place reports at the end of the meeting; consider providing digital or written copies of reports that parents can read outside of the meeting. No one wants to sit through standard reports. One exception is financial reports. Always include the treasurer’s report. The treasurer’s report should include a written budget and a report that shows how money was raised and spent. Making bank statements available is a good way to help ensure accountability. You can read more on financial accountability here.

It’s good practice to put start times for each item on the agenda. This helps ensure that the meeting stays on track and flows effectively. It’s particularly important if you are discussing any controversial issues in which it is more likely that someone will filibuster! Having a rule that each person gets an opportunity to speak once, before anyone is given a second opportunity to speak, helps encourage more participation.

Below is a sample agenda to help you get the most out of your booster club meetings. Start your meeting by reviewing the agenda. This is where you can explain the “rules” you’ve set for the meeting, including for example, that you will work to stay on-time to help ensure that the meeting starts and ends accordingly. You can also mention here, or just before the Q&A time with the principal, that each person will be provided the opportunity to speak once before anyone speaks for a second time. The report time is kept brief to allow the bulk of time to be given to the information provided by the principal. Minutes need approved; although a little unusual, we included approving the minutes at the end to allow more time for the more important matters up front.

ABC Booster Club
Agenda
[DATE]
1. Call to order & Review of Agenda 6:00p
2. Guest speaker – Principal Melissa Everly discusses school remodel plan 6:05-6:25p
3. Q&A 6:25-6:35p
4. Financial report 6:35-6:45p
5. Other reports 6:45-6:55p
6. Approve minutes from prior meeting 6:55p
7. Next Meeting 6:59p
8. Adjourn 7:00p

Planning and structuring your meeting for success if the key to having an effective meeting.

YOU SUPPORT THEM, WE SUPPORT YOU

With PBUSA membership, we file all the IRS and state paperwork. We keep your booster club up and running year after year.