Members of the Ballinger ISD school board held a public meeting to discuss bringing volleyball. The meeting was held in the Ballinger High School auditorium at 6:30 p.m. on February 6th. Approximately 40 people attended the meeting.

Board member Scott King addressed the parents and kids that attended the meeting, “A lot of people think that the board has made up its mind about volleyball. Believe me, if we had already decided it, I wouldn’t be here.” Board members Cheryl Buchanan and Jason Battle were also present, as was Ballinger ISD superintendent Jeff Butts and Ballinger athletic director Chuck Lipsey. Many of those at the meeting believed that the $200,000 price tag to bring volleyball to BISD had already caused the school board to shy away from the idea.

There weren’t many ‘pros’ as opposed to ‘cons’ for starting a volleyball program. The main pro that was discussed is that volleyball would give the girls one more option for participating in sports. Currently the girls have the options of basketball, track, softball and cheerleading. Butts, Buchanan and Battle also reiterated that the decision had not been made and the reason for the meeting was to discuss the issue and get the public’s input.

King brought up the subject of soccer that had been in BISD for a short time several years ago, “When someone comes to me about starting a new program, I think about soccer. Everyone wanted soccer and we had it for 3 years and it went away.” He also brought up the athletic side of the issue, “People say that they want girls varsity volleyball because some girls can’t play basketball, but the same girls who play basketball will most likely be the same girls playing volleyball.”

Butts commented on the potential volleyball program, “It’s all about the kids having an opportunity, but we want to make it successful for them.” One concern in starting a volleyball program is ensuring that it’s not a situation where the kids lose the majority of their games in the first 2-3 years and the program, like soccer, goes away. Lipsey said that any volleyball program should begin at the sub-varsity level so the kids are basically thrown into the crucible without any experience. Another concern was the crossover between volleyball and basketball, since it’s anticipated that mostly the same girls will play both sports.

Miles High School and Olfen ISD are the only schools in Runnels County that have volleyball. According to the schedules posted on MaxPreps for the 2019-2020 season, Miles’ volleyball season started on August 9th and ended on November 16th, even after they went 4 games deep into the UIL playoffs. Their girls’ basketball season started on November 22nd and will end on February 11th, if they don’t make the playoffs. While there was a week between the end of volleyball season and start of basketball season, there is still the practice time to consider. Volleyball practice would begin before basketball season ends. Butts said that the practice would most likely be set up in the mornings, at about 6:30 a.m. and then the girls would have basketball in the afternoon. King also commented on the practices, “If we have volleyball when school starts, they’re going to be coming to the school at 6 or 6:30 in the morning.”

Butts said that the volleyball program is doable, “It will take a lot of work but we can do it. If we start it, we shouldn’t start it at the varsity level. The program wouldn’t be successful for the first couple of years.”

One parent in attendance spoke up and commented about the program being successful, “There are years where we have a successful football team and years when we don’t and we don’t stop going to games.” Lipsey addressed that, “There isn’t anything else going on during football season. Some girls are in cross-country, track, band, cheerleading and basketball. If we begin volleyball, at some point the girls’ will have to decide what they want to do.” One father spoke up and said that the junior high already has some early workouts.

Lipsey said that he wants to girls to have options when it comes to playing sports, “We encourage all of our boys and girls to play multiple sports. I’m a big proponent of kids playing more than one sport. Your kids are going to be busy.” One parent commented on the subject of the kids staying busy, “Our kids are busy anyway. Busy kids stay out of trouble.”

Butts, Lipsey, King, Buchanan and Battle all echoed the same sentiment; that they weren’t against bringing volleyball to the school. Lipsey addressed that subject again, “We don’t disagree with anyone here. We’re just telling you how it will be.” King also spoke about it, “We want to tell you everything so that you know what to expect. If we do this, we’ll hire a volleyball coach and an assistant and we’re going to do it right, not as an afterthought.”

Butts spoke to the audience about doing their due diligence, “No decision has been made. I would hope that the community would want us to explore every possibility in starting up a new UIL program that would change our landscape. I could stand up here and say that it’s great, and I think it is, but I don’t want to get it started and the community come to us and tell us that we didn’t inform them of everything. I want all of our kids to be successful and be involved. We all know that with public opinion, especially in Ballinger, if you don’t win, it’s bad. If we do this, I want it to be a memorable part of our kids’ lives. You have 13 years, kindergarten on, to make school a positive part of your kids’ lives. You have to explore the positives with the negatives.”

King also spoke about the salaries, “When you see 60k or 70k for a salary, that’s not what we’re paying them. That’s the cost we pay with salary, insurance, teacher retirement, etcetera. It’s the total cost.”

Many parents have said that they believe that having a volleyball program will make money for the school. King addressed that as well, “Here are some high school revenue figures; we net about $850 at football games. In basketball, we lose $294 at each game.” Another parent brought up concessions as a way for the school to make money. King also addressed that, “The money from the concessions doesn’t go to the school district. The concessions are run by the boosters, and that’s who gets the money. They use it for the kids but the school doesn’t get that the money.”

It’s not just the $200,000 price tag that Butts says the school has to consider, “Our tax rate dropped form $1.17 to $1.06. We lost $350,000. The teachers’ pay scale went up $410,000. The state helps with that but they still fell $60,000 short. I was here when we did soccer. I was a coach for 4 years here. There was a group of people who were all-in on soccer and told us that it wouldn’t cost a dime. I left here in 2001 and 2 years later there was no soccer here.”

Buchanan also addressed the issue, “No one on the board has made up their mind. I’m very torn about the issue, but as a school board member, I have to think about money. We have things here at the school that we’ve always put on the backburner, such as new science labs.” One of the parent’s asked if the school doesn’t pay the $200,00 for the volleyball program, would the money go to new science labs. Buchanan responded to the question, “Well, it’s still not in the budget but maybe that’s something that we can explore.”

BISD did have volleyball a couple of decades ago but it was done away with when BISD went to full-court basketball.

A key issue is the new House Bill that was passed. Some of the particulars of House Bill 3 are still being worked out so schools are working on budgets that carry a certain amount of uncertainty since the bill was implemented just last September.

The following information is on the TEA website;

For the 2019–2020 school year, school districts and open enrollment charter schools will be required to increase salaries for certain staff as prescribed under Section 48.051(c), Education Code, which states “a school district must use at least 30 percent of the amount, if the amount is greater than zero, that equals the product of the average daily attendance of the district multiplied by the amount of the difference between the district’s funding under this chapter per student in average daily attendance for the current school year and the preceding school year to provide compensation increases to full-time employees other than administrators.”

The statute also requires prioritizing differentiated compensation for classroom teachers with more than five years of experience as prescribed under Section 48.051(c)(1), Education Code, which states “75 percent must be used to increase the compensation paid to classroom teachers, full-time librarians, full-time school counselors certified under Subchapter B, Chapter 21, and full-time school nurses, prioritizing differentiated compensation for classroom teachers with more than five years of experience.” House Bill 3 establishes an expectation that compensation increases given to experienced teachers would be higher than other compensation changes planned for the new school year.”

In making the compensation increases, the statute requires a comparison of funding available to the school district or open enrollment charter school between the 2018–2019 and 2019–2020 school years. The methodologies are detailed below.

Methodologies

2018–2019: In determining the funding per student in average daily attendance for the 2018–2019 school year, a school district should include total state aid provided under Chapter 42, and total maintenance and operations (M&O) taxes collected during that school year, less any recapture amounts owed under Chapter 41 for that school year.

Estimates for these amounts can be found on the latest Summary of Finances and Cost of Recapture reports on the agency’s website.

2019–2020: In determining the funding per student in average daily attendance for the 2019–2020 school year, a school district should include total state aid estimated to be provided under Chapter 48, and total M&O taxes estimated to be collected during that school year, less any local revenue amounts in excess of entitlement owed under Chapter 48 for that school year.

The school board will make a decision at its next board meeting on February 17th. Butts did say that work on the basketball courts to mark them for volleyball could be done so BYSA would have courts to play on even if the school didn’t begin a volleyball program next year, “I’m very appreciative of our youth sports association here in Ballinger. They do a lot for our kids and they work hard.”

The striping of the 3 courts would cost an estimated $30,000 and BYSA would be able to play on them this fall.