PICKENS COUNTY—Local middle school leaders say they are grateful for news fund available for their athletic programs through a recent decision of the Pickens County School Board to provide up to a $4,600 match for non-revenue sports equipment for middle schools.
“We are grateful for any support of middle schools in the approved budget as traditionally the middle school level is the area that receives the least funding of any school levels, yet may have some of the greatest needs,” said Gettys Middle School Principal Mike Cory. “I believe this additional funding also will help our district meet some of our district goals such as an increase in the high school graduation rate that all of us in the community can contribute to.”
The decision came after a similar program was adopted for Pickens County high schools last month. The last meeting of the board in June required each high school to spend $15,000 on non-revenue sports equipment, and the district will then provide a $15,000 match for the same.
The difference in this decision, however, is that area middle schools will not have to match the full $4,600 .
“Middle schools have the flexibility to spend up to $4,600,” said Board Chairman Alex Saitta. “If such and such middle school only wants to spend $2,000 on non-revenue sports equipment, it can, and the district would then provide $2,000 for the same.”
Unlike high schools, all middle school sports are considered “non-revenue,” so using the money for football equipment would be permitted.
“We will be using the funding to provide uniforms for our volleyball players and football players. We will also be reconditioning our football helmets,” said Pickens Middle School Principal Libba Floyd. “We’ve done without funding for so long so we really appreciate anything the board gives us to go toward our sports programs.
“We can’t purchase all that for $4,600, even with the match, but it gives us a way to add to it,” said Floyd.
Floyd says this will allow the football team to acquire the safety equipment necessary to continue to compete.
“We know that if our helmets have deteriorated then they are not safe for our children,” said Floyd. “This provides us safety with new or refurbished helmets that will be coming in this year.”
Cory says his school has had to find ways to come up with the money for sports equipment in previous years.
“In the previous budget year, middle school sports did not receive any sports supply allocation and schools had to provide local funds for any team needs,” said Cory. “Some could argue that this year’s required matching of funds had already occurred in the previous year when middle schools had to use their own funds to support their teams.”
Floyd says she could not be happier with the funding.
“This is wonderful because, even though we charge the gate for football and volleyball, it doesn’t amount to what it costs for the equipment and the safety of our kids,” said Floyd.
Cory says it will ultimately help build a stronger group of athletes at Gettys.
“We are grateful for any funding we can use to support our students and the sport programs in Easley,” said Cory. “Keeping middle school students engaged in school, positive learning activities, and healthy team sports are very successful strategies that will produce future graduates and leaders for the Easley community.”