In today’s edition we are running the second installment in my series looking at El Reno High School booster clubs and how they operate, raise and track funds.
It seems I’ve struck a nerve with my opening piece.
The series is relevant because a school district here in Canadian County, one of the three largest districts, was hit by an embezzlement scandal last month.
As I said in my opening segment, El Reno has not been immune to the problem either. In just the past six years, two athletic programs at EHS have been called under scrutiny for poor booster club fund management or non-compliant purchase practices.
So when Mustang’s former football booster club president, Raymond Craig Davis, was charged in Canadian County District Court for one count of embezzlement after allegedly taking over $10,000 from his club, I came up with the idea to show how El Reno booster clubs work.
I am not trying to rock anyone’s boat. To be honest, I think it’s sad that we have to raise so much extra money to properly fund and outfit our athletic teams.
However, when you have as many fundraisers as El Reno teams are pushed into performing to make ends meet or keep on a level playing field, there are always going to be questions.
Those questions get heightened when something like what transpired in Mustang comes to light. It’s our job as a newspaper to pinpoint those questions and answer them.
Yes, I have been asked questions about booster clubs in El Reno even before the Mustang fiasco came to light. So why not get out in front of the issue with total transparency and show readers how things are done here in El Reno.
The best way to do that is through a series which takes a look at different angles to the topic.
I chose football and the powerlifting team as a focal point for this segment because the program’s booster club, from what I see, raises more funds per year than any other sport.
I’m not picking on football.
It's common knowledge that it takes more money to run a football program, so the booster club has to raise more funds to help fill in the gaps not covered under the program’s operating budget.
No other sport at EHS requires each player to wear close to $1,000 worth of protective gear on a daily basis, game or not. Not to mention, it takes 50 sets of gear to outfit just the varsity team, and you’ve got seventh grade through ninth grade to consider as well.
One of those fundraisers last year was the regional and state powerlifting meets. I dare to say it was the biggest undertaking by any EHS sports program last year to raise funds. If you attended either event you would have to agree.
It was a huge feather in the cap of El Reno, not just the school but the town itself. It was an opportunity for the city itself to show thousands of visitors just what we have to offer.
It was also a prime example to show that running an event financially cannot always be wrapped up into one tiny little box under a neat bow. It probably could have been run straight off purchase orders, but it would have been a monumental task that didn’t have to be done due to the efforts of the El Reno Quarterback Club.
That’s why I opted to use it as an example.
When we are transparent, which is what I’m trying to be with this column, it leaves little room for questions to fester and boil.
Booster clubs also owe this kind of transparency to the many businesses and individuals who provide support for their programs.