By Karen Daniels
At the September Stafford MSD School Board meeting, tensions rose on the topic of the Stafford Cobra Football League’s future partnership with the District. During the segment for citizen participation, three people approached the podium to discuss the approval of a reduced or waived fee for the use of the SMSD varsity stadium for the Cobras organization. Of these three, two were in favor and one was against. Jacqueline Jean-Baptiste, Executive Director of the Fort Bend Youth Football League and a volunteer with the Cobra Football League, pleaded with the board to pass the agenda item, saying it would be “detrimental to our organization” if they did not. Stafford MSD has a rate of 68.23% of economically challenged students.
The sticking point on this issue is that the Cobras must have 70% participation from Stafford MSD students in order to have the usage fees waived. This number was put into their bylaws to make sure that although kids from other areas were welcome to play, Stafford MSD kids would come first. Now this number seems to be working against them. This year the Cobra’s reached only 63%. A big disappointment to the organization because originally the Cobras thought they had the 70%; however, a few of the addresses were eliminated from the count because while the athletes lived in Stafford, they were not zoned to Stafford MSD. According to Jean-Baptiste, this will add $1,410 per home game.
When it came time to take the vote, Auturo Jackson made the motion to waive the fee for the Stafford Cobras. The motion failed; 4 to 3. The board members who voted it down said they want to help Stafford MSD live within their means and spending money on kids that do not live in the District is not economically sound. Of those who were in favor, (Jackson, Zak, Butler) they felt the Board had missed a “wonderful opportunity” for the children of the community. Mr. Butler said it was “sad that the board has decided to agree with this fee.” Mr. Jackson asked, “What message are we sending to our local and global community?” Board President Ed Castillo answered that “we are protecting the 49.9 million dollar bond.”
Founded in the 1980’s for the purposes of providing wholesome recreational activity for the Stafford community, the football and cheer program is for 6-12 year olds, and teaches team work, good-sportsmanship, while building confidence. Since 2000, the Stafford Cobras has been the only organization to have won at least one super bowl ever year. The Cobras, a 501(3) c organization, sure could use a hero to keep their group going strong.