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General Brown Booster Club saves junior varsity sports

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DEXTER — The General Brown Booster Club has done it again.

With community support, the club has saved the fall junior varsity sports program by contributing $24,000 up front. The Board of Education approved the donation, 6-0, during its monthly meeting Monday.

“Really, our job is to save what’s already there,” said Julie A. Hulbert, club president.

The move also means more students will have an opportunity to play sports.

“Until the other schools decrease their programs, there’s not a lot of teams you could play just modified and varsity,” Mrs. Hulbert said. “With more kids you can include, it’s better than having them go home and play video games or sit.”

The $24,000 donation is enough to cover fall JV sports. An additional $30,000 must be raised for winter and spring JV teams.

To provide the money, the Booster Club raised $15,000 over the summer, and put up $9,000 of club funds, which it hopes to recoup, Mrs. Hulbert said. But the more pressing need is to raise the money needed for winter and spring JV sports, she said.

Athletic Director David A. Ramie said the Booster Club has been an important staple to General Brown sports since the district had an austerity budget in 1996. By law, austerity budgets cannot include money for after-school activities. At that time, Mrs. Hulbert said, the club raised a total $84,000 to save all levels of sports that were cut.

While the cost of running the entire sports program — which includes modified, junior varsity and varsity — has surpassed $200,000 annually, the district has looked at reducing the sports budget as one of many potential cuts throughout its budget process over the past couple of years.

“They’ve become more and more important to our sports budget,” Mr. Ramie said. “The Booster Club also has always been good about providing for equipment.”

That includes ordering 14 football helmets, for a total of $2,000. The club also split the $2,000 cost of new volleyball nets and poles at Dexter Elementary with that school’s Parent-Teacher Organization. Other assistance is provided for assistant coach stipends and training. Mr. Ramie said the club’s support is essential to the district’s sports program’s survival because he couldn’t justify going to the superintendent for the smallest of equipment requests.

Mrs. Hulbert said those small requests add up, and that is why the club hosts many fundraisers throughout the year. The club also has encouraged families to buy a $20 club membership, which includes free entrance to some games.

Other fundraisers include bottle and can drives, an account set up at Griff’s Redemption, 507 Factory St., Watertown, and a chicken barbecue and 5k Tie-Dye run, both to be held at 2 p.m. Sept. 21 at the junior-senior high school, 17643 Cemetery Road. The run will follow Cemetery Road toward Mullin Road and back. It will cost $25 to participate in the run, and $9 for the dinner.

Other events will be held throughout the fall and winter. More information can be found on the group’s Facebook page by searching “General Brown Booster Club” at www.facebook.com.

Saving a sports program is also what the club did in 2011 when the board cut modified sports from its budget. The club, with the community’s support, raised $24,000 to save the entire modified program.

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