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Pasco high schools will get girls flag football, superintendent says - FlagSpin

Pasco high schools will get girls flag football, superintendent says

LAND O’ LAKES — The Pasco County girls who asked the school board to add competitive flag football to area high schools notched their first win on Tuesday.

Nodding to the public interest and board members’ support, superintendent Kurt Browning said he would include the sport in his budget proposal for the coming year.

“I’m throwing in the flag, pardon the pun, on girls flag football,” Browning told the board during a discussion about spending priorities.

Board member Colleen Beaudoin had pulled a list of spending authorizations from the consent agenda to suggest that the district should reconsider contracts for Gallup surveys, among other items, so it can afford things including flag football and more classroom aides.

“Flag football is something that so many parents are wanting,” vice chairperson Alison Crumbley said. She added that instructional assistants are also important. “It’s a balancing act.”

In past years, Browning has rebuffed similar requests for flag football. It’s not that he opposed the idea, he explained, but rather that the cost must compete against other expenses.

“We are trying to balance a $1.9 billion budget, and flag football is a small portion of it. I get that,” Browning said. “But I will tell you … in the long run, the district will end up picking up the total costs of that sport. It happened with lacrosse, and it happens with any other sport that may be coming down the road.”

He pointed to the state athletic association’s recent authorization of beach volleyball as a sanctioned high school sport.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a group of folks that’s going to come before this board and say, ‘We’ve got to have beach volleyball in our schools,’” Browning continued. “And when you get hundreds and hundreds of emails, this board is going to direct the new superintendent that we need to have beach volleyball. That is going to be a very costly sport.”

As it stands, the district is attempting to cut $6 million in proposed spending in order to balance its fiscal 2025 budget plan, which comes up for a vote later in the summer, he noted. Putting flag football into the mix creates a new wrinkle.

“It’s not a priority of mine,” Browning said. “But the flag football issue, as far as I’m concerned, is over.”

Parent Shawn Millard, who has led the flag football campaign, learned of the decision Wednesday morning while attending his daughter’s eighth grade graduation ceremony.

“Awesome. Awesome, man,” Millard said. “That’s so great to hear. It’s been a good three-, four-year battle with him.”

Browning did not include the idea when parents first brought it to the district, but they didn’t give up, Millard said.

Over time, the sport grew in the county in the form of recreational leagues and travel teams. Neighboring school districts, including Hillsborough, Pinellas and Hernando counties, fielded teams, too.

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As they increased the pressure in Pasco, parents also sought outside support. Millard said they already have about $12,000 in commitment letters to help get it started.

While details are not yet available, district officials have mentioned starting off with flag football at six schools spread across the county. Girls who attend schools without a team would be able to play at other campuses.

Millard said he planned to attend the board’s next meeting in June to express his thanks.

“This is something (the girls) have been looking forward to for a long time,” he said.

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