Board to help buy jackets for football champs

Published 11:43 am Saturday, May 23, 2009

It’s time to suit up.

The Franklin City School Board voted 4-1 at their meeting Thursday night to donate $5,020 to pay the remaining balance for state championship jackets for the Franklin High School football team.

“These people raised a large amount of money already and I think that’s something to say in their favor,” said board member Johnetta Nichols.

Board chairman Bill Scarboro turned the gavel over to Vice-Chair Mona Murphy before discussion over the jacket donation, citing a conflict of interest. Board member Mary Eure did not attend the meeting.

The school board was able to pay for the jackets after scraping together the necessary funds.

“My staff has worked diligently to find some pennies to help, and we have secured some monies,” said School Superintendent Dr. Michelle Rich Belle. “We have some money to assist them to secure the jackets.”

Belle said the school board had $5,300 total to donate. Although it wasn’t immediately clear how much money was still owed for the jackets, board members were eventually able to contact athletic director Mona Sumblin by cell phone.

According to Belle, who spoke to Sumblin by cell phone at the meeting, the total cost of the jackets was $8,470, and the balance due was $5,020. The remaining balance was paid for through donations and fundraising efforts.

Board members Nichols, Murphy, Robert Meredith and Verta Jackson voted in favor of the measure. David Benton was the dissenting vote.

“I am in full support of Mrs. Sumblin, and elated at the accomplishments of our football team,” Benton said before the vote was cast. “At the same time, I think given the economic climate that we are in right now, we need to be mindful of where we’re spending every dollar, and I’m not in favor of us putting $5,000 toward the jackets.”

Addressing Benton, Meredith said, “I share those reservations, however I think the entire community benefited significantly from the accomplishments of the football team this year. And though we might not be able to add up those accomplishments in monetary terms, nonetheless they have given a real boost in morale in tight financial times that we’re all feeling in this community. I think it’s the appropriate thing to do.”

Murphy added, “I share your concerns also, but I have to agree to disagree because I think they did a great job. All of us shared in the joy of what they did, and they worked hard for it.”

Caleb Wilson, a non-voting student liaison member of the school board and a senior at Franklin High School, was the last to weigh in on the issue before the vote.

“I was at the game and I could see the look of pure joy on the kids’ faces and on the faces of the kids who weren’t on the team, or who didn’t even go to the game in school the following Monday,” Wilson said. “This group of young men has worked just as hard off the field to secure these things for themselves as they did on the field.”

“I would love to see these 40 or 50 people who are involved with the success of that program (rewarded),” Wilson added.