Board revisits topic of merging county’s MS football programs
Posted: Tuesday, January 15, 2013 9:05 pm
By CHRIS MENEES
Talk of combining four middle school football teams into countywide grade-level teams yielded more questions than an-swers Monday night for the Obion County School Board.
There was nearly an hour of discussion on the football program alone when the board revisited a proposal which was rejected at a called school board meeting in December.
The board ultimately decided the issue will be placed back on the agenda for consideration at its February meeting.
The agenda for Monday night’s monthly school board meeting at Ridgemont Elementary included dis-cussion of forming a combined sixth-grade foot-ball team for Black Oak, Hillcrest, Lake Road and Ridgemont elementary schools.
Obion County Director of Schools David Huss said the concern at recent parent meetings was it seemed there were no issues about removing sixth grade from middle school football and forming a county team for just sixth-graders. It was not specifically addressed at the called meeting last month.
Obion County School Board chairman Brian Rainey said most all parents had agreed they want sixth-graders pulled out of the middle school football program due to concerns with age and maturity level in putting younger players in with older players. Several board members concurred and said parents expressed similar concerns to them.
The board then voted unanimously to not allow sixth-graders to participate in the junior high football program.
After that decision, though, Rainey asked the board to reconsider a decision to combine the four middle school football teams into countywide grade-level teams for seventh- and eighth-graders. The proposal was voted down 3-2 at a Dec. 17 board meeting called specifically to consider a recommendation from the Athletic Advisory Com-mittee to change to a com-bined format for middle school football.
Board member Scott Northam reiterated his previous concerns about the board making a decision without having all the information regarding issues such as who would oversee the program and how coaching would be handled. He said people have posed those questions and he would like to see a written proposal before deciding.
Athletic Director Craig Rogers explained someone would serve as a liaison between the junior high and high school programs and he said all the middle school coaches would be utilized in some capacity. He also said newly-hired Obion County Central High School football coach Kevin Goltra wants to be involved and help the junior high coaches in whatever capacity.
Board member David Lamb said he would also like to see a written proposal, and both Lamb and board member Fritz Fussell expressed concerns about how the cheerleading program would be handled with the consolidation.
Huss said discussion of combining teams started back before football season when it was brought to the board’s attention that participation numbers were declining. He said the Athletic Advisory Committee members talked and the recommendation was to form countywide eighth-grade and seventh-grade teams, with parent meetings then held at individual schools to talk options and gain input.
An obviously frustrated Huss said he doesn’t know how much information will be enough information and he said numbers have been provided. He said they will have coaches, with Rogers coordinating the effort as it gets under way.
In pressing for a decision Monday night, Rainey emphasized it would be the same coaches who currently coach and he said there was considerable support at the parent meetings.
Fussell, who is the school board’s representative on the Athletic Advisory Com-mittee, questioned the reasoning behind the board’s revisiting an issue which was voted down last month. Two board members were absent from the called session on Dec. 17, but all seven board members were present Monday night.
Northam expressed continued concerns about rushing into a decision without all the answers and Rainey responded by saying the issue has been talked since October and no board members raised concerns at Friday’s pre-meeting orientation session.
Rogers said he is willing to meet with junior high coaches and cheerleading sponsors, as well as high school coaches, to work out details and determine a direction for the program. Board member Tim Partin noted coaches were part of the committee which made the recommendation to combine.
Northam said he is not against the proposal, but wants it all lined out in advance, and Fussell said he would like to see a better plan brought to the board. Rainey said until a commitment is made, they won’t have all the answers for every detail. Partin said board members are getting “bogged down by minute details” and he questioned having committees if the board is not going to follow their recommendations.
After 52 minutes of discussion and without any decision, Rainey asked that details be worked out with all those involved and the issue be placed back on the board’s agenda for a vote at its February meeting.
In other action during Monday night’s one hour and 20 minute meeting, which was opened with prayer led by Partin, the school board:
• Recognized the dissolution of the South Fulton Parent-Teacher Organization and removal of the organization from the school district’s website. Since the organization is no longer active, no fund-raising activities are allowed to take place.
Huss explained South Fulton Elementary’s Parent-Teacher Organization voted to dissolve the organization Jan. 7 during a called PTO meeting. He said there “appears to be issues with procedures and accountability” and, based on the meeting, it appears the state comptroller’s office has been contacted.
• Received a copy of a proposed calendar for the 2013-14 school year to review before a scheduled vote at next month’s board meeting.
This year’s calendar committee, comprised of representatives from each school in the county system, voted unanimously to recommend the proposed calendar for board approval. Every school administrator and teacher had an opportunity to vote on the proposed calendar and Huss said they “overwhelmingly” approved it on first vote with 243 out of a possible 280 votes, or 86.8 percent.
The proposed school calendar for next year has 175 school days, with the first day of school proposed as a half-day on Aug. 8.
While still reviewing the calendar, board members voted Monday night to go ahead and set next year’s high school graduation for May 30, 2014.
• Approved a low bid of $18,100 from Klinkhammer Acoustical Inc. for the purchase and installation of ceiling grid and ceiling tile for the new central office facility and a low bid of $21,440 from Superior Fire Systems for the purchase and installation of a fire suppression system for the facility.
Huss told board members the central office should be moved into the old vocational school building on North Fifth Street in Union City by the end of the current fiscal year, June 30, and the accounting department will likely be able to move there during spring break.
• Accepted a low bid of $208 each from CDI Computer Dealers for 100 refurbished desktop computers to replace various student computers in various classrooms systemwide.
• Set the board’s annual retreat for Feb. 15. The day-long event has been held at the Obion County Public Library in recent years.
• Approved a consent agenda that included the monthly personnel, substitute teacher and financial reports, as well as a list of technology equipment declared surplus for disposal.
The personnel report listed the resignations of Hillcrest educational assistant Teresa Tibbs and Obion County Central High School teacher/coach Shawn Jackson; leaves of absence for Lake Road teacher Jennifer Godwin, OCCHS teacher Rebekah Carman, Hillcrest teacher Jamie Huss, Black Oak food service employee Linda Calhoun, South Fulton Middle/High School food service employees Lisa Wade and Gena Frields and South Fulton Elementary custodian Earline Potts; and the hirings of Lake Road teacher Meredith Mancell, Hillcrest teacher Ashley Martin, OCCHS teacher/coach Kevin Goltra, OCCHS alternative school teacher Travis VanHooser, Lake Road custodian Steven Jonas, Black Oak custodian Wanda Crowell, South Fulton High School soccer coach Kevin Legerton and interventionists Bethany Patterson, Debbie Bowlin, Victoria Abbott and Lauren Moore.
Substitute teachers ap-proved for addition included Lauren Jacobs, Johnathon Nolan, Shelia Sanders, Bethany Ivy, Melissa Rinks, Cheryl Harrington, Victoria Abbott and Teresa Quinton.
• Accepted on first reading an amendment to board policy regarding student discrimination/harassment and bullying/intimidation and cyberbullying.
• Approved a resolution opposing legislation to create a statewide or alternate authorizer for charter schools, which Huss said would “bypass locally-elected boards of education and usurp the responsibilities entrusted to those boards by their constituencies.”
• Approved several overnight student trips, including those for Hillcrest’s band and OCCHS’ FFA and Art Club.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Published in The Messenger 1.15.13