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BoE, business owner debate school fundraising at venue that sells alcohol
BoE-7---Goolsby-speaks-out
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s owner Doug Goolsby addresses the Bryan County Board of Education about school booster clubs not being able to hold fundraisers at his restaurant. - photo by Ross Blair

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A video of the meeting.

Over the past two years, Beef O’ Brady’s has played host to a number of fundraisers for booster clubs of Bryan school sports and other extracurricular programs.

But the rumored banning of school-related fundraisers because the restaurant serves alcohol was the hot topic at the Nov. 20 Board of Education meeting

Beef’s owner Doug Goolsby said Superintendent Dr. Sallie Brewer sent an email to all the principals in the county that reads, in part, "School activities cannot take place in a business which sells alcohol."

Goolsby believes this has influenced the cancellation of at least two recent fundraisers.

Brewer said the email was taken out of context, and there is no a ban. Rather, she said each booster club’s fundraising events must be approved by the principal – a policy that has been in place for a long time.

"In 18 months, we’ve held over 60 fundraisers and raised over $30,000," Goolsby said. "It amazes me to have to stand here trying to defend my business when all we want to do is help the community … What I’m asking for is that we continue to be allowed to the help these organizations like we have in the past."

Also in the spotlight was a recently scheduled RHES PTSO fundraiser at Beef’s that was vetoed by RHES Principal Walt Barnes. Goolsby said the timing of Brewer’s email coincided with the cancellation. He also said the BCMS band boosters no-showed a recent Beef’s fundraiser. Barnes said he cancelled the PTSO event on his own accord.

"First off, let me say that the PTSO did everything they were supposed to do," Barnes said. "They do a great job. The decision was mine, and I take full responsibility. I based it on the curriculum I teach at the school (regarding alcohol) … When I put my name on a fundraiser for the children to go down to a restaurant with a bar, it sends a mixed message, and I cannot do that … I think Beef ‘O’ Brady’s is a great restaurant. We’re going to try to do some things with them in the future."

Board member Jeff Morton said funding is continually being cut from the schools’ budget, which increases the need for fundraising from boosters. He also said he has heard nothing but good things from clubs that have held fundraisers at Beef’s. Morton spoke of all the Wildcat memorabilia within the restaurant and said and commended them for supporting the schools.

"I don’t think there are enough businesses that support our kids," Morton said. "Now we’ve got a business owner who is trying to support us, and we tell him no thank you. This is just something I want to discuss among the board."

"I don’t think anybody on this board has anything against Beef ‘O’ Brady’s – that’s not the point," BoE Vice Chairman Frances Meeks said, saying there are policies prohibiting the board from overturning a principal’s decision regarding booster fundraisers.

"As the policy stands, the principal makes the decision on what booster clubs, or in this case the PTSO, are allowed to do," board member Joe Pacenka said. "To that end, I think we should support our principals. But I’m also very appreciative to businesses like Beef ‘O’ Brady’s who are willing to support our schools and our booster clubs to help us raise money. So, therefore, I guess I’m a little torn."

Warren said neither Barnes nor Brewer has brought the details of the PTSO fundraiser or where not to have fundraisers have not been brought before the board before now. Warren acknowledged the growing need for booster fundraisers, acknowledging that they have brought in millions of dollars for programs.

"The main issue here doesn’t have to do with Mr. Barnes, it doesn’t have to do with Beef ‘O’ Brady’s," Warren said. "The issue here is that we’ve got schools, we’ve got the community and we’ve got the parents - and everybody needs to work together for the same common good."

He said all parties involved in fundraisers need to have open communication to avoid problems such as this from occurring in the future.

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