District hears offer from hospital for ath. trainers

A proposed agreement between the Warren County School District and Warren General Hospital to provide athletic trainers failed to make it out of committee Monday night.

The school board’s Personnel, Athletics and Co-Curricular Activities Committee opted not to move the agreement forward out of concern over the limited scope of events it would have covered and possible unrelated political repercussions.

In the agreement, Warren General offered to provide athletic trainer services for varsity home football games within Warren County at no cost to the district.

The agreement did not extend the offer to other sports or even guarantee the offer for the football games.

According to provision five of the agreement, “Conditioned upon availability of qualified personnel, hospital will use its best efforts to provide a trainer at every district varsity football game. Hospital and district recognize that there may be periods when a trainer is unavailable. Hospital will make a good faith effort, but shall not be obligated, to obtain trainer coverage to ensure the services of a trainer.”

The provision led to concern among committee members.

“There are a lot of holes,” Mary Anne Paris said. “It seems like saying, ‘We’d like to provide trainers, but we don’t know if we have staff,’ and it’s just for varsity.”

“We need trainers,” John Grant added. “We don’t need them exalted to the status of just varsity football… We need them at soccer games… at basketball games… We also have a very strict volunteer policy.”

Paris expressed concern that Warren General staff could funnel injured students to the hospital for further treatment.

“Are you going to let students know there are other options for physical therapy?” she asked George Lilja, who represented the hospital at the meeting.

Lilja responded that providing information on other available sources for treatment was not considered.

The committee also questioned whether trainers would be true volunteers or be paid by the hospital while rendering services.

Lilja said the trainers would be paid by the hospital.

“Why do we need a contract?” Grant asked. “Why can’t we just encourage them to volunteer… I think this is a generous offer for a stop-gap… I don’t think it solves our problem.”

Grant also expressed concerns over a provision tying continuation of the agreement to maintaining the hospital’s 501(c)(3) non-profit status.

“That has other political ramifications,” he noted.

School Board President Arthur Stewart said an agreement covering only varsity football could bring up issues with Title 9 compliance, as it would exclude girls’ sports.

He asked if the hospital could provide an offer of service based on district needs, rather than one focusing on varsity football, if the district could provide the necessary information, or if the offer was tied to varsity football.

Lilja responded that he did not believe the offer was tied to a particular program and didn’t foresee a problem with providing service based on district needs..

“I’d like to ask if you can come back,” Stewart said. “I’d like to take a studied look at what the district’s needs are… and what you’re able to provide.”

Lilja agreed to take the committee’s concerns to the hospital for consideration and further discussion on a possible new proposal.