|The Annandale High School Marching Atoms|
Some booster officials are calling this rule change a “money grab” and are concerned that it could become harder to raise money and recruit volunteers if the booster clubs lose control over their funds. Marching band and similar high school programs are heavily dependent on parent support.
“It’s not a “money grab,” and “it’s not a power play with the booster clubs,” FCPS Deputy Superintendent Richard Moniuszko told the Annandale blog.
“An internal audit showed local activity funds are handled in different ways in different schools,” Moniuszko says. “We’re looking to clarify the regulation  so the money is handled appropriately and in accordance with the regulations.” He also said there had been complaints from parents about how booster clubs handle money, but declined to give details.
The new guidelines, expected to be available by the end of the month, will only deal with booster clubs for activities, like band and drama clubs, that are related to the curriculum, he says.
Currently, it is up to the principal’s discretion to allow booster clubs to deposit student participation fees they collect into their own bank accounts and to manage and disburse those funds as they see fit for such things as band trips or band uniforms.
“This has been the practice for many years at most high schools and has worked quite efficiently and without any apparent problems,” Ron R. Hutchinson, treasurer of the McLean High School Band Parents Association, wrote in an email to other booster club leaders.
Under the forthcoming rule change, Hutchinson says, “All of those funds would now be controlled by the FCPS rules governing the School Activity Fund and would be managed and disbursed by the one finance officer at each high school.”
“This new rule change will cause an operational bottleneck and create more work for the already over-worked finance officer at each school.” he says. “There is also a concern that there is no guarantee that the student participation fees collected will actually be spent on the student activities for which they were collected, especially in connection with reserve funds that are carried forward from year to year to pay for large items.”
“It would be a huge waste of money to pay school employees to do what parents have volunteered to do for years,” states an email to booster leaders from Debbie Norton, president of the Band Boosters of Oakton HighSchool. “I'm not sure Dr. Moniuszko appreciates the amount of money that our booster organizations manage or the amount of volunteer hours it takes to do so.”
Norton raised a number of concerns with the rule change: Will parents continue to support booster organizations financially if the clubs have to turn all money over to the school? Will people be as willing to donate if they know the boosters will not have direct control over how the money is spent? Will fewer parents be willing to participate if they think the county is running the show? How difficult will it be for band directors to run their programs if they have to submit a purchase order, and wait for approval, before they can order music for a band festival or marching season? Will the county commit to hiring additional finance office staff to do this now and then discover in the future that they can no longer afford to do so?