Letter jackets for non-athletes back in closet

Published 11:26 am Friday, March 30, 2012

A proposed policy change to allow the Vicksburg Warren School District to provide varsity letter jackets to students in athletics, arts programs and academic clubs was tabled by the Board of Trustees at its monthly business meeting Thursday night.

The district traditionally has purchased letter jackets, about $89 each, for varsity athletes in about 10 sports, to signify they have achieved a certain level of skill.

The letters alone have been given to students in band and other nonathletic activities for at least 20 years.

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The idea to expand the policy to include band, choir and other arts and clubs was first proposed by District 1 Trustee Bryan Pratt in September. Pratt defended the proposal as a fairness issue Thursday night.

“Kids in the Big Blue (band) and choir, they work just as hard as the athletes,” Pratt said. “If we provide them for one group we should provide them for all.”

Dr. Elizabeth Swinford, superintendent, said the district is not allowed to pay for the jackets out of operating funds. The cost has come from activity funds generally drawn from ticket sales and gate fees.

Adding band, clubs and other activities to the list of qualifying students will deplete those activity funds, she said, but the proposed policy was brought for their approval as they had requested in the fall.

District 5 Trustee Sally Bullard said it was not clear which students would qualify and which would not.

“I still have a problem with the financial issue,” Bullard said. “Where do we draw the line? We need to be much more specific about what clubs are included.”

After a brief discussion, the board voted unanimously to table the policy change and asked Swinford to come back with revisions that further define whom would be eligible.