A new state law requires that organizations such as PTOs, booster clubs and alumni associations which use a school's name, mascot or logo to raise funds will need to enter a written agreement with the school system and provide the school system with complete financial records on request.
The new law was discussed Monday night by Bedford County Board of Education. Tennessee School Boards Association has prepared a model policy for school systems to enact to bring themselves in compliance with the law, Public Chapter 326.
The new law doesn't apply to a civic or community club which happens to operate concession stands or parking for a school function, only to groups which use the school's name, logo or mascot to represent themselves in fund-raising activities.
Groups covered by the law must be non-profit, must enter into a written agreement with the school system and must agree to indemnify the school system and school board from any liability for the support group's actions. There must be policies and procedures in place for accounting and safeguarding money, materials and property, and the support group must keep its financial records for at least four years.
Booster clubs must also not promote any violation of eligibility requirements, codes of conduct or sportsmanship.
School board members said there's good and bad in the new regulations. It's good for booster groups to be held accountable, but board members are sensitive to the fact that if regulations are too burdensome, some groups will be discouraged from participating.
The new rules don't yet require that booster groups apply for 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit status or that they be included in the school system's audit, but some board members speculated that the state may move in that direction in the future.
In other discussion Monday night:
* The board ratified the new contract with Bedford County Education Association, the union representing local teachers. As had been previously discussed during the budget process, the contract includes a bonus for returning teachers and an increase on the locally-funded portion of teacher salaries.
The contract does not formally address the role which would be played by teachers if the school system adopts standardized school attire for the 2008-2009 school year, although Amy Martin, who chaired the school system's negotiating committee, said the issue was discussed during negotiations. Principals would likely discuss the dress code with the teachers at each school and would encourage them to set an example for students by dressing in a professional manner.
The school board is still studying standardized school attire and will make a field trip to Nashville this fall to see how it is being implemented by Metro schools. School Superintendent Ed Gray said two civic clubs to which he has spoken have been overwhelmingly in favor of the idea, although both raised the issue of teachers dressing in an unprofessional manner.
* The school board approved a plan to bring all schools into the same cycle for accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Currently, schools are under staggered cycles for their SACS self-study and evaluation programs.
* The school board approved one name which had been omitted from last month's teacher tenure recommendations.
* The school board approved a budget amendment for school system federal projects to shift money between accounts before the end of the federal fiscal year on Sept. 30.
* The school board re-elected Barry Cooper as chairman and Martin as vice chairman. Martin is also the incoming president of TSBA.
* The school system is still short seven teacher positions -- three in special education, two in math, one in guidance and one in technology education. But some other Tennessee systems have far more open positions: Rutherford County has 46 positions to be filled, and Memphis is 116 positions short.