Oct 19 2014

OPINION: Turkey Trot Recommendations

The following statement was made at the City and School  Liaison Committee meeting of Friday, October 17, 2014.

Thank you to the City Council and School District Liaison Committee members for this opportunity to speak on the topic of the Turkey Trot.

My name is Katie Korotzer. I currently serve as the president of the Associated Parents Clubs of Piedmont, which encompasses 6 parent clubs and 14 school support groups. I’m speaking to you as a representative of the parent volunteer community.  This parent volunteer community carries forth a very long legacy of service to others and financial stewardship of funds raised for our schools.

Since the publication of the FAQ about the Turkey Trot by the superintendent’s office in late September, the parent volunteer community has had many conversations and reactions to the situation we now face. 

As parents of students currently attending PUSD schools we feel that our voice should be considered when arriving at a solution.  We have had friendly conversations with the organizer of last year’s Turkey Trot and hope to continue those conversations in order to reach an agreement that would be acceptable to all stakeholders.

As parents, we recognize that there are pre-existing legal and financial matters that we are not party to and which must be resolved before any agreements can be finalized.

As you all are aware, every year from 2003 to 2013, the Turkey Trot has been organized by a group of people consisting of parents of student athletes along with Cross Country & Track coaches, as a fundraiser for the Piedmont High School Cross Country & Track Teams.  (Refer to Hard Copy documentation: photocopies of race permit applications by Cross Country team for City Street Closures each year for the decade between 2003 & 2013). 

The Cross Country and Track Teams are part of the 14 sports that are offered for boys and girls at PHS.  Most, if not all, of these 14 teams conduct their own annual fundraising drives ranging from simple car washes, to what has over the past decade become a very successful annual Turkey Trot.   Teams raise money to pay for things such as uniforms, equipment and transportation.  All of the 14 sports have parent and coaching representation within Boosters, a parent volunteer run 501c3 organization since 1978.   

One of the questions before us today is regarding “ownership” of the Turkey Trot. Who has the “right” to make decisions about this PHS Cross Country and Track Team fundraiser?

Should it be the group of cross country & track student athletes, current parents and coaches that for the past 10 years have filed for the City Permit, or should it be the newly formed Piedmont Turkey Trot Corporation?

That may be a bigger question than can be answered in today’s meeting. 

Whatever the answer, the parent volunteer community believes that the Turkey Trot is a wonderful event, which brings in a huge group of runners from Piedmont and surrounding areas.  No one knows for sure if these runners are motivated to run because proceeds benefit the student athletes of the PHS Cross Country & Track teams.  But the fact remains that since its inception, the event has been sponsored by PHS Cross Country & Track teams. Without the involvement of these student athletes, their parents and their coaches, the event would not have been occurring and growing as it has for the past decade.

Parent volunteers are therefore in support of the Turkey Trot occurring in 2014, but with the following suggestions for this year’s Street Closure Permit Applicant – the newly formed Piedmont Turkey Trot Corporation.  Parent volunteers have reason to believe that these suggestions will be taken by the Piedmont Turkey Trot Corporation and are looking forward to a friendly, cooperative dialogue within the next few days with the spokesperson of the corporation.

The suggestions for the Turkey Trot Corporation are:

  • Parents of current student athletes be included as board members, and that this be an ongoing practice each year.
  • An articulated plan be developed for succession of event management to avoid volunteer “burn out” and a sense of “event ownership by any one individual”.
  • That the entity responsible for planning the Turkey Trot have on it’s board in advisory capacity: (1) a city representative and (2) a school based representative such as a school board member or district employee, and (3) a PHS cross country or track coach.
  • That the organizing entity of the Turkey Trot engage in a yearly committee/board discussion, with minutes taken and available for public review, of how any excess net proceeds after Cross Country and Track team fundraising needs are met, would be used.
  • And that prior to City approval of the 2014 Street Closure Permit, the organizing entity comes to an agreement with the City as to how funds are going to be distributed on an annual basis, preferably in keeping with the tradition as stated in Council Agenda Reports of the past three years (2011,2012, 2013): “All proceeds from the fundraiser will go to support the Piedmont High School Cross Country and Track teams”.

Additionally, there have been several suggestions from the parent volunteer community regarding a change to the traditional language of the next sentence in the Council Agenda Reports referred to above, which refers to excess funds and which currently reads: “as well as acquiring exercise equipment to benefit the whole school” to something such as one of the following suggestions which have come from the parent volunteer community and from the newly formed corporation:

  • “Student athletes should decide how Excess Funds would be used”
  • “Excess funds be distributed equally to all teams”
  • “Excess funds go into a Witter Track & Field Replacement Fund”
  • “Excess funds go to offset City of Piedmont costs to host the event”
  • “Excess funds go to support running in Piedmont, perhaps through the Rec Dept.”
  • “ Excess funds go to as-yet unidentified charities; perhaps local food banks because the event occurs on Thanksgiving”

As a parent volunteer group, there is no set consensus on the use of these “excess funds”; yet parent volunteer trust could conceivably be placed in a representative board as described above to discuss these possibilities and make this decision from year to year on behalf of the parent volunteer and student athlete community.

It is now the job of City and School representatives to move forward regarding issuance of the City Street Closure Permit.

These remarks will be shared with the spokesperson of the Turkey Trot corporation today, for inclusion in what parent volunteers believe will be productive and cooperative talks within the next few days, ideally leading to a healthy reconciliation of perceived differences between stakeholders.

Thank you.

Katie Korotzer, President of the Associated Parents Clubs of Piedmont

Editors’ Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.

One Response to “OPINION: Turkey Trot Recommendations”

  1. This is a reasonable and fair proposal! Why would anyone oppose the idea of all stakeholders being represented at the table for the planning of this terrific ALL PIEDMONT event? If this isn’t possible, the PHS Boosters should take over the race and it could benefit ALL PHS teams.

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