ROGERSVILLE - Although the price tag doubled by the time they took a vote, the Hawkins County Board of Education approved creating a boy's and girl's soccer team at the county's two large high schools. By appropriating $40,000 at the November 2 meeting, school officials hope to have two boys soccer teams ready to take the field in spring 2013. "I was approached by some parents in the past few weeks concerned about not having a soccer program at the high school level, although we do have it at our middle schools," Board member Chris Christian told his fellow board members, with an audience of parents and possible participants on hand. Christian said that during the process of investigating the issue, including visiting the schools, he had discovered there may in fact be a need for a program. "I went to the schools, because if it's something the students don't want we don't need to be looking into it," Christian explained. He said a survey indicated 28 boys and 23 girls said they would participate if a program were offered at Volunteer, with the addition of seniors, who were not originally asked, bringing the total to 62. At Cherokee 45 boys expressed interest in being on a team and 42 girls said they would participate. "There were 200 students (at Cherokee) who said they would be in support of a soccer program and come out and support their classmates," the board member added, adding that no response was received from Clinch High School. As part of Christian's investigation he added he checked with the middle schools to see "what kind of need we have in the future," with all county schools responding that there were eighth grade students who would also be willing to participate. Christian said he and the group of soccer supporters checked with other schools to see if creating a new program was feasible. While the teams could play on the existing football fields, starting a new program at the schools would involve new equipment, ranging from four goals to balls, uniforms, officials and coaching supplements. Christian's original estimate was a one-time funding expenditure of $10,000 per school, with the addition of $3,000 for coaching supplements for each program. While there is a start up cost involved, Christian said the programs could also generate some revenue. Steve Starnes, of the central office staff, also presented results of an investigation concerning the creation of soccer programs, requested by Director of Schools Charlotte Britton. Starnes said his figures included a regulation clock and scoreboard, a security officer and a gate keeper. Starnes had included transportation cost but Christian said the school does not provide transportation for some sports. The central office supervisor also questioned the use of the football field at each school as a soccer field. "In contacting all the other schools, every other school in East Tennessee, that I'm aware of, including Science Hill, plays soccer on their football field," Christian replied. Britton said that the reason she had Starnes look at the proposal to make certain adequate funding was appropriated from the beginning. "I feel this is a wonderful idea but I wanted to make sure that part of the start-up cost does not fall back on the schools or their athletic departments. We were trying to field a quality program," Britton explained. To account for the expenses Starnes included in his figures, Christian ultimately made a motion that $40,000 be appropriated from the general fund's undesignated fund balance to establish soccer programs at the two high schools, a motion seconded by Board member Michael Williams. Christian and Williams were joined by Board member Kathy Cadic and Chairman Randy Collier voting for the appropriation. Board members Debbie Shedden, Bob Larkins and Holly Helton abstained from the vote, with Shedden and Larkins both indicating they would like to have more time to evaluate and study the proposal. "I just got this information tonight. I think it is a good proposal but I also know I need more time to study it," Larkins said.
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