Stafford City Council scores a touchdown with the Cobra’s Youth Program
By Karen Daniels
This season has been a difficult one for the Stafford Cobra’s football and cheer organization. Numerous times Jacqueline Jean-Baptiste, Executive Director, has had to go before the SMSD Board of Trustees as well Stafford City Council to ask for a reduced or waived usage fee for the District’s varsity field. The caveat for the organization was the required 70% student participation of SMSD students and Stafford residents that was put into enforcement this year; three months after Cobra registration. The Cobras only reached 66% participation this year.
After being voted down (4/3) at last week’s SMSD school board meeting, Ms. Jean-Baptiste once again came before City Council to request the $5,760 that SMSD is requiring of the Cobras to use their facilities. Mayor Leonard Scarcella wasted no time sharing his opinion that he felt the City “should pay the amount so not to disrupt the season for the kids” though he shared his reluctance in paying for children outside the City and wants more of an effort made in assisting underprivileged youth participation.
Councilwoman Felecia Evans-Smith was passionate in her support for the Cobras and felt that Ms. Jean-Baptiste should not have had to come before them again. She referenced the Joint Facilities Agreement drawn up between the City and SMSD. “It says we should benefit each other. If you look at what we (the City) do, and they (SMSD) do, it’s way lopsided. And it is a very big insult to me, and it should be to all of you, that we get a bill from the school district that’s benefitting the youth.”
Councilman Cecil Willis said, “The time has come, in my opinion, to review the total youth programs, to come up with rules, regulations and guidelines that are very simple.” Councilman Robert Sorbet echoed Cecil Willis’ remarks and added, “At the end of the day it’s kids from our community and we need to provide this service for them.” When Mayor Scarcella made the motion to assist with the needed funds for the Cobras, he added a clause that money be included for playoff games, if needed. The motion passed unanimously.
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