After about two years of trying to reach an understanding between the school district and booster clubs, the Dover Area school board passed a new policy for all school-affiliated organizations.
The Dover band booster club, which was at the heart of the contention over the past year, is also in the process of becoming a nonprofit organization and becoming recognized by the state's Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations.
The district has asked for financial documentation from its booster clubs and other volunteer groups covered by the district's insurance policy for the past two years.
District officials said several groups, including the aquatics club and the athletics boosters, submitted the appropriate paperwork, but the band and choir boosters did not.
The clubs were asked to submit proof of compliance or proof of why they are not required to follow certain guidelines within the district policy, IRS code and state law.
Policy changes: The new policy clears up expectations for future years, said district Superintendent Ken Cherry.
The policy includes three main requirements, which asks all groups to submit a copy of its bylaws, an annual list of officers and an annual financial report to the district.
"Moving forward, these are the minimal things we're asking them to do," Cherry said.
The new policy also lays out the accounting practices that are to take place within the groups. For example, an annual independent financial review needs to happen for all booster clubs and PTOs, to be conducted either by a professional accountant or by members of the group who are not named on the checking account.
The lack of those procedures in some previous cases were cause for concern among school board members, especially with amounts of $300,000 to $500,000 filtering through some groups for trips and other large expenses.
These guidelines can't be forced upon the groups, Cherry said, but are the expectation if groups are covered by the district's insurance policy and use the school's facilities.
"We're not looking to control anybody," Cherry said. "We know boosters provide a tremendous support for us."
Booster audit: Going into the coming school year, all of the booster clubs and PTOs are covered under the district's insurance policy, said Mieke Driscoll, attorney at CGA Law Firm, which represents the district.
The band booster club was audited by the Bureau of Charitable Organizations earlier this year, said boosters president Dave Jans.
"We didn't fare very well," Jans said. "That's what really opened our eyes to a lot of things."
That audit prompted the group to begin the process of becoming a nonprofit group, Jans said. The group has also worked before and after the audit to improve its financial reporting practices, he added.
As part of becoming a nonprofit group, Jans said the band boosters will dissolve to officially become the Dover Music Boosters, which will include the band and chorus boosters together.
"We're looking for a new start, a partnership with the board," Jans said. "That's the way it should be."