Parents question the finances of Fannin County Athletics

News, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – The Feb. 8 Fannin County Board of Education (BOE) meeting was packed, with many left at standing room only, as parents and supporters of Fannin County Athletics gathered once again to voice concerns over the direction of the program.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Donnie Kendall, ryan Walton, Cliff Shirah, Brian Johnson, Rebels

The Board of Education listens as public commentary focuses on athletics.

Fannin County School Superintendent Dr. Michael Gwatney addressed the crowd before the meeting got underway saying, “Safety is always the top priority. With that in mind, ladies and gentlemen, we have received a maximum number that’s allowed in this room from the state fire marshal, and we must adhere to that number.”

School principals were present to help usher the crowd and school resource officers were stationed at all emergency exits.

“Our room is at capacity,” Gwatney continued. Gwatney announced that the BOE had set up accommodations in expectations of the large turnout. The meeting would be streaming online and alternate locations had been set up at the high school as an overflow where supporters could watch the live-stream.

Ten community members signed up prior to the meeting to ensure that their voices would be heard during public commentary.

Donnie Kendall, who spoke at the January BOE meeting, led the way again and spoke first during the public’s allotted time.

“The last four weeks the administration has not only been helpful, but they have also made theirselves available in hearing all of my concerns, ” Kendall began. “The problem is our administration is reactive instead of proactive.”

Kendall voiced that the same accountability that is placed on educators in the school system should also be placed on coaches, citing the boys basketball team finishing with just three wins and 21 losses.

In comparing this with an academic classroom where only three students were passing with 21 failing, Kendall stated that that educators job would come into question, and the likelihood of their position being renewed would be slim.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Donnie Kendall, ryan Walton, Cliff Shirah, Brian Johnson, Rebels

Donnie Kendall addresses the board first during public commentary at the BOE meeting.

“If you choose coaching as career path, you will ultimately be judged by your wins and losses,” Kendall added.

A point of concern among many of the public commentators and mentioned first by Kendall is a need for the BOE to produce total financial transparency of the athletic departments. Kendall, like many others, would like to know what formulas are in place for the funding and who is responsible for the financial decisions.

Speaking of the numerous booster clubs throughout the different athletic departments, who are responsible for raising tens of thousands of dollars every year, Kendall stated, “What we can do and what we are prepared to do is refuse to support that program financially.”

Another commentator, Cliff Shirah spoke from experience on the financial transparency that is desired by parents. Shirah has been treasurer of the Dugout Club for four years.

In those four years, Shirah cited that approximately $192,000 had been raised by the community for this club and the money directly supports Fannin County Athletics.

“We want to know how programs are funded and from what budget, and what is the process or guidelines that those decisions are made?” Shirah questioned the BOE.

Shirah pointed out that the Dugout Club had spent $34,000 in field maintenance and asked, “Why are parents forced to pay for these facilities and field expenses?”

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Board of Education, Superintendent, Dr. Michael Gwatney, Bobby Bearden, Lewis DeWeese, Terry Bramlett, Chad Galloway, Steve Stanley, East Fannin Elementary School, West Fannin Elementary School, Blue Ridge Elementary School, Fannin County Middle School, Fannin County High School, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, Fannin County School System, Donnie Kendall, ryan Walton, Cliff Shirah, Brian Johnson, Rebels

Brian Johnson counters reasons given by administration about the state of Fannin County Athletics.

Brian Johnson, former president of the Basketball Booster Club, also touched on finances, stating the Tip Off Club had raised upwards of $200,000 in four years, and asked the board, “What will the school board’s actions be if financial support is taken away from these programs?”

Johnson also addressed what many parents felt were excuses being given by administration for the current state of Fannin County Athletics: “excuses have been given from, ‘we don’t have talent’ to ‘we’re rural and secluded’ to ‘other teams should be playing in higher classifications.'”

Johnson countered these arguments by stating, “What in your minds makes us more secluded than Union County, Murphy, North Carolina, Hayesville, Towns County, or Hiawassee, Georgia? We have struggled against these very schools that are as small or much, much smaller than we are.”

Ryan Walton, who also spoke alongside Donnie Kendall at the January BOE meeting, did not agree with the explanations that the administration has offered. “All I’ve heard is excuses on why we don’t compete. I haven’t heard any answers,” Walton said.

Walton added, “I will say that the coaches at Fannin County right now are doing a great job of teaching our kids that life is not fair and that the best person does not always get the job, but the athletic director and board are doing a terrible job by showing these kids that you can be terrible at your job and not get fired.”

Other parents were present giving testimonials on how success in athletics directly correlates with success in a child’s personal life and their academics. These parents expressed concern over what they saw as the coaches’ lack of involvement with or enthusiasm displayed for their athletes.

Ultimately, the parents and supporters united under a common theme of change. They wish to see a winning culture come back to Fannin County and want the full chain of command, from the BOE down to the coaches, to take responsibility for this turn around.

Follow FetchYourNews as we look into obtaining full financial transparency for the Fannin County Athletics Department.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

Parents angered over current state of Fannin County Athletics

News, Rebel's Corner

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Parents of Fannin County school children gathered at the Jan. 11 Board of Education meeting to express their concern and anger over the current state of the Fannin County Athletics Department.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Fannin County Football, Fannin County Basketball, Fannin County Baseball, Fannin County Volleyball, Fannin County Softball, Fannin County Wrestling, Board of Education, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, salary, Donnie Kendall, Ryan Walden

Donnie Kendall addresses the Board of Education about Fannin County Athletics.

Accusations of student favoritism, parent interference, and overall lack of accountability among administration were discussed as parents addressed the board.

First to speak during the public commentary portion of the meeting was parent Donnie Kendall.

“We have a culture here at this school that has been accepted and embraced. That’s a losing culture, and it’s considered the norm,” Kendall spoke of Fannin County Athletics. “If we continue to accept mediocrity as being good enough, then your endeavors will always be mediocre.”

Kendall cited that parents and residents are told that Fannin County is small and rural, and therefore not able to attract or produce the athletes like areas with a larger population.

“This is simply not true,” Kendall stated of the athletes in our area. He pointed to Union County as an example. This county according to Kendall is smaller and just as rural, but manages to play in the same AAA region with much better results.

Kendall spoke directly of assistant principal and athletic director Dr. Scott Ramsey: “We have an athletic director who makes $93,000 to run these programs, whose job undoubtedly ends at 4:30 so he can go to his second job while different administrators are asked to cover for him at our sporting events on a regular basis.”

Coaches in Fannin County are paid a premium salary according to Kendall and “all finish dead last respectively in their regions almost every year.”

Kendall did praise the community of Fannin County for their enthusiasm and support of the school system’s athletics and commented that the booster programs consistently raise $30,000 to $50,000 a year.

“I think it may be time for the community to match the effort of our administration and our coaches and suspend some of our fundraising,” Kendall remarked about actions to take until significant change happens within the program.

Ryan Walton, another parent with children who participate in numerous sports, also spoke during public commentary.

Fannin County, Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County Athletics, Fannin County Football, Fannin County Basketball, Fannin County Baseball, Fannin County Volleyball, Fannin County Softball, Fannin County Wrestling, Board of Education, Athletic Director, Dr. Scott Ramsey, salary, Donnie Kendall, Ryan Walden

Ryan Walton wants to see change in Fannin County Athletics program.

Walton began, “My problem with the athletics here, and I don’t speak just for myself, when you get coaches here that will play to win instead of letting parents influence who plays sports, who starts, you’ll have a little bit better result.”

Walton spoke of parent influence over coaches, “It’s obvious that it goes on,” and spoke of his own son, “He should play because he’s good enough not for what I do for that team.”

Other issues mentioned at the meeting were athletes being asked to pick a sport that would be their primary sport and the coaches lack of flexibility for students who participate in multiple activities. The practice of Fannin County’s basketball coach starting with a team in middle school and then moving up with that team to high school was also brought up.

“It’s not moral, it’s not ethical, it’s not right,” Walton said on the issue of coaches moving up with teams.

Walton stated, “I could stand up here for 24 hours and not repeat myself about all the stuff,” and concluded, “Something needs to change. I’m tired of losing. Our kids deserve better. I know mine do. We’re paying people a lot of money not to do their job.”

Other parents were scheduled to speak but expressed that their concerns had been addressed by both Kendall and Walton. Ultimately, the group wanted answers for who is accountable for the Fannin County Athletics Program and for that person or persons to make significant changes soon.

Stay with FetchYourNews as we follow up with the Fannin County School Board and Fannin County Athletic Administrators on issues discussed at the Board of Education meeting.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

Author

Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

FetchYourNews.com - Dedicated to serve the needs of the community. Provide a source of real news-Dependable Information-Central to the growth and success of our Communities. Strive to encourage, uplift, warn, entertain, & enlighten our readers/viewers- Honest-Reliable-Informative.

News - Videos - TV - Marketing - Website Design - Commercial Production - Consultation

Search

FetchYourNews.com - Citizen Journalists - A place to share “Your” work. Send us “Your” information or tips - 706.276.NEWs (6397) 706.889.9700 chief@FetchYourNews.com

Back to Top