Webster Parish School board discusses teacher gate fee

A discussion about allowing Webster Parish School employees to use their employee badges to gain entrance into sporting events raised several issues.

Board member Jerri “JJ” O’Neal asked the board to adopt a policy on employee entrance using their identification badges.

The board never made a formal motion to draft a policy, but member Jerry Lott asked the principals association to look into it and come back with the results of their discussion.

Principals’ association president Jeff Franklin says the issue has already been discussed. The decision was made to allow each principal to take care of his or her own staff.

With all due respect to the board, Franklin says, they don’t engage in this practice because the schools’ athletic programs do not receive funding from the school board.

“Our other neighboring parishes send their athletic programs money from the school board in the form of stipends or supplies,” Franklin said. “They get an athletic budget from the school board. Webster Parish gives us nothing; everything that we get comes through our gates or it’s done through fundraisers.”

O’Neal says it would just be a nice gesture and would help raise morale.

“I received just a couple of phone calls about six weeks ago, not from a high school teacher or a junior high teacher,” O’Neal said. “It’s from an elementary teacher and support staff. We know that the price of everything is increasing. Even the price of admission to games has increased slightly over the past seven years, and just because that staff member is not at that high school, they did educate those kids.”

She says it is difficult for some employees to make the cost of the games.

“They’re not asking for their spouses, just to use their employee badge to get in,” she said. “You’re going to get that money back. People are going to use the concession stands, they’re probably going to bring their spouse, you’ll increase employee morale and you’re going to bring unity starting from elementary on up.”

Minden High School principal Robin Tucker says she agrees with O’Neal that it would go a long ways toward morale, “however, I have been principal at Minden High when we were 14 and 1, and there was a lot of money in the bank to take care of helmets and equipment and all the things our students needed for athletics.

“But I’ve also been principal at Minden High when we were 1 and 9,” she continued. “We could hardly pay the bills. We already have to acknowledge LHSAA cards and those people that get in free. There are a lot of retired administrators, principals who have their lifetime free to get into any event. We already recognize our senior citizens, which I think is a wonderful thing for our community.”

She says it’s not that they don’t want to extend the same courtesy to school employees, it comes down to the numbers and the money.

“I’m just here to tell you that when you’re 1 and 9 and you still have to have those helmets reconditioned for the next year, our football team is out there knocking on doors raising money,” she said. “Those years are going to come. You’re not going to have every year where you are sitting on a successful football season.”

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