Resident raises red flag on H-F High sports travel costs

District 233 School board members approved five out-of-town trips for Homewood-Flossmoor High School sports teams, and tried to answer concerns from Flossmoor resident Peter Hallam who said the move was not transparent.
 
It was the second time Hallam addressed the board to argue about its vote to pay for the trips. At the October board meeting, he complained board members needed to investigate why certain teams were given a preference.
 
At the Nov. 21 meeting, Hallam asked why the more than $8,500 in expenses were not itemized on the agenda. Information on student fundraising for the trips was not itemized either.
 
“The public doesn’t have any idea of what these trips cost and what amount is coming out of the taxpayers’ pockets,” Hallam said.
 
Superintendent Von Mansfield said that providing such detail to taxpayers would be “tedious.” However, the November figures later were provided by board member Beth Larocca.
 
Athletic Director Dan Vosnos told Hallam and the board in October that he works from a specific budget to fund trips, and teams do fundraising to cover a portion of the costs. Teams submit their travel proposals to him for review.
 
The high school regularly covers costs to send students to various competitions and events — both academic and athletic. Only out-of-town travel requires board votes.
 
Team travel approved at the November meeting includes:
 
  • The athletic department will spend $1,940 to send the Vikings girls track team to a meet at Youngstown State University in spring. Students raised an additional $1,068 to cover costs.
  • The majority of the costs for the girls track team to travel to San Diego will be paid through fundraising. Students raised more than $7,000. The school board will pay $1,650 for the trip.
  • The girls track road trip to Indianapolis will be funded entirely through the athletic budget. The cost of that trip was not available.
  • The Vikings boys track team raised more than $8,800 to cover costs to compete for a second time in San Diego. The athletic department budget will cover $4,960 toward expenses.
  • The H-F girls basketball team trip to Cincinnati will be financed entirely through fundraising. That cost was not available.

Board President Steve Anderson defended the road trips, saying that coaches and the athletic department should be free to spend their budgets as they wish.

“There are lots of good reasons for our kids to have these opportunities,” Anderson said. “College representatives have a better chance to view our athletes and there’s a more competitive environment.” 
 
Mansfield said in October that athletic scouts don’t make trips to high school games, but go to regional competitions like those approved by the school board. H-F students get exposure by traveling to those competitions.
 

Marilyn Thomas contributed information to this story.

 

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