Refs

SUN PHOTO BY JACOB HOAG

An official blows the whistle to signal the start of the play clock in Port Charlotte High’s spring game in May.

The Lee County School Board decided Wednesday to cancel all football scrimmages this week due to the ongoing labor dispute with the South Gulf Football Officials Association. This puts three area games in jeopardy.

Charlotte High is officially canceled and Lemon Bay and Port Charlotte's games are still up in the air since they are playing outside Lee County.

Charlotte was scheduled to travel to Mariner and Lemon Bay is slated to travel to Labelle. Port Charlotte is supposed to host North Fort Myers.

The school board posted this statement on their Facebook page at around 5:45 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

"It is with great disappointment that we are writing this to inform you that all home high school football scrimmages will not be played this week due to breach of contract by the South Gulf Football Officials Association (SGFOA).

In May of 2019, our high schools signed contracts with the SFGOA that defined compensation. Ten days ago, the SGFOA notified us that they would not honor that contract and wanted more compensation.

It is important to note that The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) sets the maximum amount that the referees can be paid. Our District pays that maximum amount.

Based on the SGFOA’s actions, the FHSAA revoked the Association’s sanction, meaning they are no longer allowed to referee games. The FHSAA worked diligently to secure officials for this weekend’s games, but were unable to do so.

We want to make it clear that we absolutely agree officials should be compensated at a higher rate, and have promised to lead that charge when their contract comes up for renewal with the FHSAA.

We will continue to work on a resolution to this matter so our athletes can play, our coaches can coach, our bands can play, our cheerleaders can cheer, and our families and communities can support their teams."

Email Jacob Hoag at jacob.hoag@yoursun.com and follow him on Twitter @ByJacobHoag.

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