Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in a series looking at El Reno High School athletics and how booster clubs spend and track finances.
Kristen Koehler knows her volleyball program at El Reno High School does not raise as much money as some of the other sports which require more funds to operate.
However, just like those other sports, each and every penny she and her players raise is just as important.
“It's important that we have money that we can use to put things back into the program for the girls that is easily accessible for things when we need it.
“We raise money and I tell every girl, parent and booster club member the reason we raise money is that every penny goes back to the girls. We raise money so we can do things for the team as a whole or for the girls as individuals if they need it,” said Koehler.
The majority of athletic teams at El Reno operate with two financial accounts. One bank account is opened through private banking institutions under the sport's booster club's name and overseen by the club's officers.
The other account rests inside the district's activity fund, which is overseen by Shannon Ward, activity fund custodian.
Keeping track of that money, in both accounts, is something Koehler takes seriously - which she feels is her responsibility.
“As a coach it's my job to stay on top of the accounts. If I'm not, then I am not doing my job,” said Koehler.
Keeping track of the money in her team's booster club account takes more work than the activity fund, which gets audited every year by outside sources.
El Reno Public Schools does require each booster club it sanctions to submit financial records for the club once a year to be audited by Ward. Superintendent Craig McVay said Ward scans over the books for each club and keeps basic records of their income and expenditures.
However, those records are not made public according to the opinion of Julie Miller, General Council for the Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA).
“This is just her opinion, but outside booster clubs are private and not subject to the Oklahoma Open Records Act,” said McVay.
The money in each sports activity account at the school is open to public scrutiny. During the June meeting of the El Reno School Board, Ward's report on the activity fund account showed more than 80 different clubs with accounts which carried a combined closing balance of $257,829.42.
Among those accounts were 18 athletic teams, combined junior high and high school level. Those clubs had a collective closing balance of $74,730.56.
Like most of the sports, Koehler says she uses her district account to make larger purchases in which her program can save on taxes. She referred to the AcuSpike machine the volleyball program purchased last year in conjunction with the athletic department, booster club and a grant from the El Reno Public Schools Foundation.
“We did it that way because it was a big piece of volleyball equipment that we knew we would never have in our budget. We ran it through the activity fund account because of the price and that it was partly paid for by the athletic department and the grant.
“Our booster club made a donation of about $1,200 to our activity account and the school paid $1,000 and the grant was around $900. The total cost was about $3,000,” said Koehler.
She also referred to the 2017 purchase of uniforms for the junior high program due to an influx of new players.
“We ran that through the activity fund account because we had the time,” said Koehler.
Tracking booster club funds
Koehler said the money for volleyball's portion of the AcuSpike machine and the uniforms was approved by her club officers, which is something she must have done in advance of such purchases.
“As a coach I just can't go out and buy something. I have to have it approved by the president and the treasurer,” said Koehler.
Every sanctioned club must submit both a list of officers and bylaws to the school each year. Koehler says her club's way to tracking money may be different from other sports, but it's a system that works best for her program.
“It's changed a lot since my first year of coaching. That first season the booster club did not do a lot. As we have grown, I've found out what works best for us.
“Coaching stability has brought stability to our booster club and we are always trying to find ways to make things better for the girls every year,” said Koehler.
Koehler says volleyball's method of tracking booster club money is simple, but with one major kicker - she is kept in the loop 12 months out of the year.
“If we ever have money stolen from our booster club account, it's my fault and not everyone should have to pay for me not doing my job. As a professional I should know that this (keeping track of the account) is just part of the job,” said Koehler.
Koehler says her booster club does meet regularly, but does handle a larger part of business over electronic mail.
“The best way we have done it, which may differ from others, is that our secretary sends out an email monthly with a breakdown of all the expenses and expenditures to both the president and the head coach.
“We are getting ready to switch banks because the one we are with now charges business accounts to view the statements online. The new bank does not, so I'm going to ask the treasurer along with us to start looking at the account each month to make sure everything matches up,” said Koehler.
Koehler says deposits are made by either herself or a member of her coaching staff or the treasurer, which creates a paper trail at the bank.
Money from the buyer to the bank
Koehler says one of the reasons she does not run the majority of money from fundraisers solely through the activity fund is the number of requirements the district uses in order to access the account – both deposits and withdrawals.
She referred to last year's T-shirt fundraiser, in which all 70 girls in the program, junior high and high school combined, were required to try and sell. Koehler said had she used the activity fund account, the school requires a receipt to be given out for every item sold over $2 to a customer.
“There is no way the school is going to give me 70 receipt books, which is how many players we had, because if we had done it through the school they require you to have a receipt for every purchase (of a T-shirt),” said Koehler.
The program sold 400 shirts, said Koehler.
Instead, she opted to run it through the booster club and use the following system:
u Each player was given an order form. When a T-shirt was ordered, the player wrote down the purchaser's name, phone number, address and email.
u Each player collected the money at the time of the sale.
u At the close of sales, each player returned with the signup sheet and money.
“Each girl then sat down with Coach Reeves (Heather), who is my assistant coach, and they would go over the form, both would count the money and then sign or initial that all the money was accounted for,” said Koehler.
Koehler said all the money was then deposited into the bank by either her or the treasurer. The order was then made and once the shirts arrived, each player was dispensed the number needed based off the aforementioned signup sheets.
She added the treasurer then would pay the invoice from the shirt manufacturer once it was presented.
Trusting your players and officers
Koehler says her system is indeed based off a lot of trust, but she feels both players and club officers understand that each and every dollar raised goes right back into the program.
“We raise money so that we can buy things like T-shirts that only the team will have and can wear on game day, or flowers for the girls on senior night or little plastic volleyballs to throw into the crowd.
“We want to buy meals for the girls on the days we travel when we are gone from like 2 until 10 p.m. I don't want to require parents to have to fork over as much as $8 for a meal because some kids just don't have the $8 they can get from their parents. This way we can still pay for their dinner,” said Koehler.
She puts a lot of faith into her booster club officers, but keeps a close eye on every aspect of the club's dealings.
“It's a relationship of trust and we are all backing each other up. We have plans to buy something special for the girls this year and there was a week there I was texting the treasurer several times to see what our balance was.
“There has got to be open lines of communication and it can't be where you know what's in your account during the season and ignore it the rest of the year. That's when things could happen,” said Koehler.
Players also burden some of Koehler's high expectations.
“If someone pays $12 for a shirt and never gets it, they are going to tell someone else they never got it. That's my reputation and my reputation means a lot.
“I tell the girls they represent me on and off the court and the booster club also represents me and they need to be on the up and up. Inspect what you expect,” said Koehler.