By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
GILFORD – While the members of the winning robotics team from Gilford High School were honored by members of the School Board Monday night, some parents had some criticism of the way their finances and awards were handled.
Mentors Jackie and Chris Drever, who were supported by many of the parents of the team members, told the board they were disappointed because of the time it took for them to accept two grants – one from Meredith Village Savings Bank and one from New Hampshire Ball Bearing.
Jackie Drever said the school gives the FIRST robotics team $6,000 from the budget and the rest of the money comes from fundraising and donations. But it took until Monday night for the School Board to accept the two donations, meaning the checks for the program sat in a safe for at least a month and the team, which competed two weekends ago couldn't access the money.
"We need to find a way that this doesn't happen again," she said, adding that the team was down to its last $400 before the board accepted the donations. "The kids work way too hard for that money."
Although School Board members explained that there is a legal process that must be followed, Chris Drever said that the "timing is everything" when it comes to getting access to the money.
He noted that the students compete against schools that are much larger with much larger budgets, including a few groups of home-schooled students whose only curriculum is robotics. He said the average robotics team spends $30,000 to $40,000 annually.
The mentors said they weren't asking for more money from the district, just a way to get the little they do have into the program in time for it to be useful.
Member Sue Allen said that in the future the board could call an emergency meeting to accept the donations and tasked the school administration with notifying them.
Parent Jennifer White said she was disheartened to find the 2012 banner for the robotics championship stuffed into a closet used by the team to store its equipment and robots.
"STEM is huge," she said. "We need to ...(hang) this banner in a place just as high as our sports awards."
White said the team also won the entrepreneurship award for fundraising and the school should be as proud of the robotics teams as they are of the sports teams.
Principal Anthony Sperazzo told the board that he was already working to find a prominent spot for their banners.
Editor's note: This story was updated March 15 to correctly reflect the companies who made grant to the team.
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