Violations, missed payments and a lack of training led to the recent disbandment of the Burbank High School boys’ basketball booster club.
The Burbank Unified school board voted 5-0 to end the school’s association with the boosters and dissolve the group last week, acting upon a joint recommendation by Burbank High principal Michael Bertram and the Burbank Schools Boosters Assn., or BSBA.
The recommendation listed several shortcomings, including the boosters’ “failure to execute the 2018-19 affiliation agreement with BSBA” and no payment of an affiliation fee.
The failure of the affiliation agreement consisted of a few items in addition to the nonpayment, such as a lack of compliance paperwork, along with booster members not taking part in mandatory general and financial training last September.
“The principal attempted for several months to work with the organization, the [basketball] coaches and BSBA to resolve organizational issues to no avail,” said John Paramo, the district’s director of secondary education, during the board meeting.
Jen Lurie, BSBA president, informed district Supt. Matt Hill and the board via a letter on Feb. 8 of the BSBA’s intent to terminate its association with the boosters and that it would freeze the organization’s bank account effective Feb. 12.
The letter stated, “There were accusations by both sides (boosters and coaches) that the other was hindering the progress of raising funds and the payment of expenses from the program. There were multiple instances of avoidance of communication, planning, preparation by both the coaches and the boosters.”
In terms of compliance, Lurie said the basketball boosters failed to produce certificates of insurance “naming BSBA and BUSD,” along with a lack of midyear and end-of-year financial audits as well as conflict-of-interest and whistle-blower acknowledgment forms.
Lurie also noted that the basketball boosters did not hold monthly meetings or submit meeting minutes to Bertram.
“I don’t doubt the positive intentions of people who try and fund-raise to support their teams,” board member Steve Ferguson said. “Having said that, there’s training that BSBA offers and the fact that that training wasn’t participated in gives me real pause.”
Ferguson acknowledged the district had a duty to step in and protect the boosters, an all-parent volunteer group.
“If anything, I don’t want people getting in trouble with a lot of money,” he said. “If they’re not handling it the right way, that’s a precaution to take care of our kids and our parents.”
According to boosters treasurer Nella Zadikian, there is over $40,000 left in the group’s account.
“The current funds that the boosters raised will be donated to the school or the basketball program,” Hill said. “So, the funds stay there.”
The boys’ basketball program can still raise funds, according to Hill, but it will have to set up a trust account through the school’s Associated Student Body.