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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)
A group of Collierville High School parents and students came to the town's school board meeting Tuesday and said the system favors boys' sports over girls' sports in financing.
School superintendent John Aitken said the system will look into the matter. "We will reach back out. We work with people. We take their concerns seriously."
The complaint highlights the culture of competitive sports and extracurricular activities in Collierville, where it's not uncommon for parents to pay hundreds of dollars for their children to play. Competitive cheerleading can cost $4,000 per year or more.
Parental booster clubs also raise money to sponsor out-of-town trips and other expenses.
About 15 girls in maroon Collierville High sports uniforms, along with some accompanying adults, watched as 23-year-old Paige Eubank went to the front of the room to address school board members.
She said girls' teams have a harder time raising money because their teams are smaller, which may be due to higher fees charged to parents. "And also because they're just not supported as much by the community," she said.
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She said she graduated from the high school in 2011 and played softball and that she was speaking on behalf of her younger sister Sydney, a current high school student and participant in soccer and softball.
Their father, Jay Eubank, 54, then told board members that the school system appeared out of compliance with Title IX, a federal law that requires equity in male and female sports.
"These student leaders, these athletes want to ensure that we have excellence in academics, arts and athletics. And we cannot do that if we are not in compliance with the law."
He said the boys' teams are getting better practice areas and marquee time slots for their games. He also said booster club money should be distributed equitably by law. "If the funding discrepancies are not addressed, we will probably end up with non-compliant facilities at the new school," he said, referring to the big new high school under construction.
At $300 per year, football costs less than other sports, but a list of school fees approved last year doesn't show a clear pattern of girls' sports costing more than boys' sports. For instance, the annual fees for soccer and basketball are the same for boys and girls. Softball, a girls' sport, costs $1,200, while baseball, a similar boys' sport, costs $1,600.
Eubank said later that the law doesn't compare sport to sport - girls' basketball to boys' basketball, for instance. "The law considers the totality of the programs. And so when you look at football being $300 and any girls' sport costing more than that, they would call that inequality."
He also said sports team budgets vary dramatically.
After the Eubanks made their statements, they left with the group of parents and students, and the board continued regular business.
Reach reporter Daniel Connolly at 529-5296, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @danielconnolly.
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