School board: Drop club insurance requirement – News – Panama City News Herald

The new policy, approved for advertising, will exempt school, booster and parent-teacher clubs from having to purchase their own insurance when holding functions on school property or using school facilities.

PANAMA CITY — A revised policy exempting school, booster and parent-teacher clubs from purchasing their own liability insurance when using school facilities again split board members and district staff during Tuesday’s meeting.

The new policy, approved for advertising, will specifically exempt those three groups from having to purchase their own insurance when holding functions on school property or using school facilities. The move directly contradicts what the district’s risk management team has recommended in the past.

“From a risk management perspective, I think it’s for the best to require the booster clubs and parent organizations to have the insurance,” said Tracy Smith, the district’s insurance and risk manager.

Superintendent Bill Husfelt, who disagrees with requiring these groups to purchase their own liability insurance, said the district is working on a way to make sure they’re covered without having to dip into their coffers.

“We’ve got different options on how to protect them and protect us,” Husfelt said.

The insurance portion is a small part — only about 10 words — of a larger policy overhauling use of school facilities and updating the fee schedule for renting out spaces like the auditorium at the St. Andrew School or the new fine arts building at Mosley High School. Members of the board all agree on the other aspects of the policy and agreed Tuesday that, despite their differences of opinion, the policy needed to pass.

“It’s definitely time to move forward,” member Ryan Neves said. “We really needed to get that passed.”

Neves, and board chairman Ginger Littleton, have opposed exempting booster clubs and other parent groups from having insurance since the policy first was introduced about two months ago. Neves said he was “disappointed” that the board didn’t see eye to eye, and that they voted against the recommendation of the risk management team.

“That’s what politics is,” he said. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.”

The board voted to advertise the policy for 30 days at a vote of 3-2, with Neves and Littleton dissenting. After 30 days, the board will hold a public hearing on the policy and then take a vote on whether to move forward and adopt it. Neves said he expects the policy to pass next month.

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