CARBONDALE—A full house of around 30 parents and elementary-age children packed the USD 434 Board of Education chambers at its Jan. 11 meeting to discuss the memorandums of understanding (MOU) relating to club baseball and softball teams that use district facilities.
The board began discussion during its December meeting, and prepared new facility use agreements for consideration last week. The drafts proposed a fee for private teams using the facilities, but did not reach discussion.
The board heard comments from several area club coaches, which compete in Sports Zone leagues in Topeka, but are comprised of several USD 434 students and practices at district facilities. Kylie Hastings, coach of the Lady Royals first and second-grade softball team, spoke on behalf of keeping existing usage agreements.
“Eighty percent of the kids are from our district, parents pay taxes to our district,” Hastings said. “A big push for the bond was, we are going to push our athletic teams, and that starts at a young age.”
The coaches would like to use district facilities, including the Overbrook Attendance Center and Santa Fe Trail High School auxiliary dome gymnasiums, as well as batting cages.
Zach Anshutz, board member for USD 434 and the Overbrook Recreation Commisisoner, expressed concerns that private teams push out participation of district students.
“We’re saying this is open to everyone, and I have seven kids that have nowhere to play,” Anshutz said. “Where do I put those?”
Anshutz said he had run into problems where there weren’t enough children to form a recreation team because players had joined club teams elsewhere.
“When we’re looking for more players, it’s open to everybody,” Hastings said. “My only concern is, make (facility use) the same for everyone.”
“I’ve gotten several phone calls about this,” said Randy Boudeman, board president. “Would this be out of line, for us to sign a memorandum with you, to notify all first and second graders that Lady Royals are going to have a practice on the said date.”
Hastings said she’d be open to announcing team formation dates to the district.
“We really want what’s best for the kids,” Hastings said. “These girls playing together at a young age is crucial to their success in the future. We’re just asking for the same thing that’s available to other sports.”
“You’re 100 percent right,” Anshutz said. “That standard needs to be re-evaluated and the same across the board. We’re going at it pretty haphazardly tonight. When do you guys start practice?”
“Now,” Hastings replied.
Anshutz suggested tabling the action until all the MOUs could be reviewed.
“We need to at least table this, so we know what the memos say,” Anshutz said. “I get that we’re trying to get through this tonight to clear out a roomful of people, but let’s do it right.”
“We’re halfway through the year now,” said Boudeman. “Wouldn’t it be better to start that during the summer time? I think we need to redo them all, but we’re not going to redo them all in the middle of the seasons.”
Jason Supple, board member, suggested adopting a temporary memorandum for baseball and softball that mirrors the basketball one.
“Let’s just approve that memo for the rest of the school year,” Supple said. “If it’s good enough for basketball … ”
Jason Lee seconded the motion, which passed 3-2, with Michelle Ferris and Anshutz dissenting. Supple later defended allowing district teams to use facilities at little or no cost.
“Down the road, if it makes everything more competitive, it’s a small price to pay,” Supple said. “It’s not more important than education, believe me, I know that.”
In other business, the board:
• discussed the possible need for a new district position. Teachers Faith Flory and Jayson Duncan said recent district planning meetings showed varying teaching styles, particularly in the areas of writing.
“We need a curriculum director to put us on the right track for kindergarten through 12th grade,” Duncan said. “We need someone to run this show.”
Flory, who has a master’s degree in curriculum, talked about working to meld teaching styles throughout the grades and buildings.
“I’d like to see, for my son’s sake, building up so we get that right,” Flory said.
“In a football coaches frame of mind, I’m seeing 11 players running a different play,” Duncan said. “That doesn’t work. We’ve tried it.”
The position currently falls under parts of other positions. The board and building administrator discussed the need for a full-time director.
“This is all the fallout and all the cutback,” said Patrick Graham, high school principal. “I believe this is where we are starting to have some issues.”
• discussed the need to hire two more sixth-grade teachers to allow teachers at the junior high to have a planning period again.
• noted the county spelling be will be 10 a.m. Feb. 3 at Carbondale Attendance Center.
• approved a request for an additional coach for the high school football team to work one-third of the time.
• approved Kansas Association of School Boards policies and the 2017-18 calendar.
• approved purchasing a used truck for the district for $8,000.