Stafford Council discuss sponsorship to youth sports
By Karen Daniels
This past year was challenging for the Stafford Cobra’s. SMSD enforced a 70/30 rule (Stafford MSD kids/Other area kids) to qualify for the waiver of the facility usage fee. Jacqueline Jean-Baptiste, Director of Cobra Football and Cheerleading, explained this percentage was placed into the bylines as a thank you to the City of Stafford for providing outdoor lighting at the football practice field. This was to ensure that the league was “predominantly Stafford” kids, and not intended as a guaranteed number. After the 2013 registration, the Cobra’s only reached 65%. If it weren’t for City Council agreeing to pay the facility usage fee, ($5,760) the Cobra’s would have had to go back to the parents and ask for more money or move the home field to a different area.
Councilman Cecil Willis feels “strongly about supporting Stafford youth programs” and wants to start the dialogue to assist financially. “It’s time to have one set of requirements for everyone” in each of Stafford’s leagues and “after Stafford kids are taken care of, other area kids are welcome.” Councilman Willis mentioned “8 basic criteria” that have been identified, and over the next few months, will “help create a new agreement for the leagues.”
Mayor Scarcella spoke optimistically about assisting the youth groups. “I’m here to encourage opportunity for Stafford children.” Felecia Evans-Smith suggested that the percentage be lowered to 60/40 and said, “At the end of the day, this should be a wash” between SMSD and the city. She has gone on record before to say that the Joint Facilities Agreement drawn up between the City and SMSD “should benefit each other.”
During the public hearing, Jacqueline Jean-Baptiste asked that the count of eligible players include Stafford LOE’s (Limited Open Enrollment) and kids of teachers andcity employees. John Collins, President of SYBA, said they did not make the 70% mark either. “Over the years, registration has dwindled since Missouri City and Sienna have opened up.” School Board Trustee, Ettienne Zak, spoke as a parent, not as a board member, and thanked Council for “Stepping up to help the Cobra’s last fall.” No motion was made on the agenda item, though discussions are expected to continue at the Stafford Joint Budget meetings.
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