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Friday night lights are dim for the Keith High School football team’s upcoming season

Dear Editor,

After 50 straight years, the Keith High School Football 2018 season is in jeopardy. After an inventory and audit of the equipment needs and finances, interim coach Anthony Lumpkin and assistant coach Turner found 32 helmets do not meet current AHSAA standards for use for the upcoming season.

Also, 32 shoulder pads are in such poor shape that they are unusable. According to principal Tommy Tisdale, the helmets are at or beyond the expiration date for safe play and cannot be reconditioned. There are insufficient funds in the football budget to cover the cost of replacing the helmets and other equipment needs. An invoice in the amount of $10,837.20 sits on his desk to cover the cost of new equipment.

The Bears playing field is also in poor condition. The field needs to be re-sodded and leveled off. Also, the sprinkler system needs repairing and an upgrade to the press box needs to be made. The cost of these repairs could range well over $5,000. What has led to this situation? To begin with, Keith High and Middle School have a student enrollment of fewer than 300 students. Therefore, generating funds for sports activities presents its own challenges along with other management issues. To host a home game, the cost could well exceed $1,500 with the cost of referees and security. With ticket sales of $6 and $2 parking, it is difficult to recoup these expenses. Attendance is generally low unless it’s a rivalry or the homecoming game. The Dallas County School Board and Superintendent will be slow to embrace these costs, with the upcoming school year approaching.

Funds could be better utilized for more critical maintenance needs, buses, and academic supplies. In addition to having two other high school football programs and two middle schools with similar needs. The community, businesses, fans, and supporters will need to do their part.

The major issue remains, as our chairman Mark Story has stated, the half-cent sale tax and the portion being diverted to the Selma City School System.

Last year, the Selma City School System received $887,082.11 from the Dallas County Board of Education. In the month of April 2018, the Dallas County Board of Education passed to the city $85,707.38. This money, just on month pass thru could have easily provided enough funds to improve the athletic programs at all county schools. This is only the tip of the iceberg. More cuts loom, as well as consolidation of bus routes which means longer bus rides and students getting up earlier and arriving home later. The County Commission has stated over and over again the money from the half-cent sales tax was intended for the County School System as a $1 million imbalance already exists between the two systems. Selma City Board, your silence on this issue is deafening. Stop hurting our children and crippling our ability to provide them with a great education.

-Roy Edwards, Board member of Dallas County Board of Education