After a series of motions, votes, rescissions and more motions and votes, the Kilgore ISD Board of Trustees will help pay for rings and lapel pins to celebrate the state champion Kilgore High School boys’ varsity soccer team.
The action, which came by resolution, was accompanied by much discussion about the precedent it would set. When the 2004 football team won the state championship, the University Interscholastic Team prohibited school districts from purchasing commemorative rings or lapel pins for student athletes.
That rule changed in 2015, though, allowing districts to purchase commemorative rings or other “major award” for state championships.
The KISD board ultimately approved by a 5-2 vote to pay $200 toward the awards per student athlete, student trainer, coach and trainer associated with the team.
Trustees Joe T. Parker and Scott Montgomery voted against the motion to approve the resolution.
Parker began the discussion with comments about the district’s 2015 decision to elimination the homestead exemption.
“I think if this is done, then I think it’s going to make the citizens that were irate even more irate that you’re spending taxpayers’ money on this,” said Parker, who was not a member of the board at the time of the decision and is not named in the ongoing lawsuit against the district and the trustees who were involved in the decision. “We’re supposed to take taxpayers’ money and use that money to give the kids a good education, get good teachers, and we’re supposed to use it wisely… In the past when the kids have made it to the state championship, won the state championship there were ways the community came together and they got those rings, and I think if we did it that way today, I don’t think we’d have a problem with the kids getting the rings.”
Trustee Reggie Henson, however, was the first to support putting money toward the awards.
“If we’re going to sit here and celebrate these kids about winning the state championship and then we’re not going to do anything for them, I think is a disgrace to them,” he said. “We talk about it’s all about the kids. They represented Kilgore well.”
Board Secretary Trey Hattaway put his voice alongside Henson in support of approving the resolution.
“I think we need to do something. I’m not saying we have to pay for it all or whatever,” Hattaway said, but celebrating students’ victories and accomplishments is part of the educational process. “The fact that we might have a champion in this sport or in that division, whatever, I’m ready to celebrate any victory… We can make a policy that will cover everybody.”
That policy will come later, though, as the proposed resolution applies only to the state championship boys’ varsity soccer team.
So as not to exclude any student or staff members of the team, Hattaway made a motion to amend the resolution to include student trainers and professional trainers throughout the document, allowing them the same options as student athletes and coaches to receive awards.
“They’re an integral part of that team, just like the players and the coaches,” Board President Dereck Borders said with Parker agreeing. Coach Mike Wood added the student trainers were recognized with the players during the April 24 board meeting.
The amendment passed by a vote of 6-1 with Montgomery voting against it, but the original amended resolution was met with the 5-2 vote with Parker joining Montgomery with a nay vote.
Less than one minute after voting on the amended resolution, though, Montgomery brought to the board’s attention phrasing that could be misinterpreted as saying the district would give a total amount not to exceed $200, not $200 per person for the award.
After discussion of how to proceed, the board unanimously approved to rescind the just-accepted motion to approve the resolution and then approved a new amendment (by a vote of 6-1 with Montgomery as the one) specifying the $200 was per person toward the award.
The board then voted again on the resolution with the new amendment included, approving it by a vote of 5-2 with Montgomery and Parker remaining in the minority.
Before bringing the discussion into open session, the board met in closed session for “consultation with attorney regarding resolution for award expenditures related to state soccer championship” and for consultation with attorney regarding the homestead exemption lawsuit.
An item to discuss policy that would include a budgetary item to pay at most $200 for students’ state championship commemorative awards is expected to be on the agenda for the May 29 regular board meeting.