Tonawanda News

September 28, 2013

Boosters clash over sales

By Jessica Bagley
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Members of Tonawanda City School District’s football and cheerleading booster programs are in the midst of an unpleasant disagreement over the right to fundraise at home football games. 

Mothers from both organizations, including a large contingent of football booster members, brought their concerns to the school board at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.

Lisa Finiki-Hitzger, a cheerleading booster club member, told the board that she had asked school officials if her organization could sell items at last week’s game. An athletic director approved the fundraising, she said, but a football booster member then denied the request.  

“We are racking of our brains thinking of things to sell that football isn’t,” she said. 

Although football booster club members denied some of the cheerleading group’s arguments, the disagreements Tuesday centered over allegations that the football group is selling too many items. Cheerleaders are then left with nothing to sell, they argued. 

In response, football booster members said that they only have a finite number of games to fundraise, while the cheerleading season lasts all school year.

Dale Zdrojewski, of the football booster club, said they have been selling the concessions at Clint Small Stadium since the early 1980s. These arguments have happened before, he said.

“Years ago, when the booster clubs first started, we had similar issues between soccer and football,” he said. “I ended up being the mediator between the two parties, and now we haven’t had an issue in more than 15 years.”

Zdrojewski offered to be a mediator between the two clubs again in order to straighten out the squabbling. 

Despite Zdrojewski’s offer, school board President Sharon Stuart said the matter necessitated a look at the formation of a new policy or the revision of an existing one.

“We need to firm this up,” she said, commenting that the football group may be bullying the cheerleading booster club. “We need to ensure that each group has a fair and equitable share of the fundraising, and to stop the fighting ... because we are all here for the children.”

The board discussed a number of options, including a meeting between all the district’s booster clubs a few weeks before the start of the season in order to flesh out who will be selling what and where. The football booster and cheerleading booster groups could also alternate selling the concessions, a board member suggested. 

At the end of the discussion, the board directed district attorney Chris Trapp to research fundraising policies and come up with a possible draft to discuss at the next meeting. 

But board member Diane Misner said she is worried about etching a policy in stone that must be followed.

“I think this may be something that the two groups need to get together and work out themselves,” she said.

Zdrojewski agreed.

“Something similar happened between the two groups a few years ago,” he said. “New people get involved, a few toes get stepped on incidentally ... this is something that the parties need to get together and resolve.” 

Contact reporter Jessica Bagley at 693-1000 ext. 4150, or follow her on Twitter @JessicaLBagley.