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Safe! Saugus Booster Club Not Disbanded

Posted: February 8, 2008 3:55 p.m.
Updated: April 10, 2008 2:01 a.m.
After meeting with school administrators and hearing from softball parents, Saugus High School softball coach Julie Watson has had a change of heart, deciding for the time being to keep the team's booster club intact.

"As of right now, we are not disbanding," Watson said Thursday.

Watson had met with booster club executive board members on Monday to inform them that the club was being disbanded due to its negative atmosphere, and to tell Treasurer Karen Broussard that all booster club funds would be transferred to the ASB.

Watson since has had meetings with Principal Bill Bolde, Assistant Principal Mark Overdevest, Athletic Director Kevin Miner and booster club members to discuss the club's future.

"(Watson) set up a meeting with me after meeting with the board, and I told her that if she wanted to disband the club she had that prerogative, but I encouraged her to - instead of just doing away with the booster club - let's work to improve it," Bolde said. "I think Julie had a change of attitude and heart and mind after she sat down and talked to me."

A special booster club meeting was held Wednesday to talk to parents about the future of the club. Club board members who attended were relieved to find out that there was still hope for the club.

"We're not here to take something away from you," Bolde said to open up the meeting. "We embrace your involvement."

Bolde went on to tell the parents that he considered booster clubs a vital function of the school, but added that "there's nothing that says there has to be a booster club."

The Saugus softball booster club has encountered problems since the beginning of the school year, when parents and players attended a meeting of the William S. Hart Union High School District Governing Board, pleading with board members to make improvements to the field, which was in great disrepair. Recently, a complaint was filed with the Office of Civil Rights for the Department of Education alleging that the softball facilities were not equal to the baseball facilities - a Title IX violation - and that the field does not have access for the handicapped.

Some softball parents had suggested that the booster club was being disbanded in retaliation for the complaint, but parent Lance Junker said that was not the case.

"There was talk about disbanding it before there was public knowledge of that filing," Junker said. Junker, a former booster club president, sent an e-mail to booster club members Jan. 30 recommending that the club be disbanded.

"I saw where it was headed, and that's why I recommended disbanding," Junker said. "The people who support the team don't want to be involved in all this controversy."

Watson confirmed that the idea to disband the club had nothing to do with the complaint that was filed.

"No, that is far from the truth," Watson said. "In the past we had more of a negative tone, and I felt we needed to come together and work as a group."

The club will go through a restructuring instead of being disbanded, according to Bolde. The bylaws need to be changed, and the money possibly could be transferred to the ASB, he said. Bolde, Watson and Miner met again Thursday afternoon to discuss what changes to make.

"Changes will be made. But I can't imagine us not having a booster club. I think our booster club will remain intact," Bolde said. "(Watson) is glad she has a booster club - she was just frustrated that it was so contentious."

Watson said she is happy with the response of the parent's at Wednesday's meeting and plans to now focus on getting the team ready for their upcoming season.

"I felt like the meeting last night was very positive," she said. "Right now we're just focusing on the season and getting the girls ready to play."


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