Residents Debate Proposal to Combine CHS Dino, Junior High Sports Programs
The Carbon County Board of Education met March 13 before a crowd of residents who attended to respond to the idea of combining ninth grade sports programs with high school teams.
After addressing several district concerns, the board allowed all people in attendance to voice opinions about the proposal.
Opening the discussion, Barry Deeter, a Helper resident opposed to the idea of combining freshmen and senior high teams, addressed the board. He offered information regarding the community disagreement with the plan. Deeter explained the contents of a petition he and wife Linda circulated. The petition stated that all who signed the document disagreed with mandating the ninth grade merger.
After circulating 25 copies for two weeks, Deeter obtained 774 signatures. The tally indicates that many residents are satisfied with the current sporting system in the district.
Deeter pointed out that many people he talked to feel comfortable with the current system that allows ninth grade participation at the high school level to occur on a voluntary basis. But about 10-1 opposed the proposal to combine the teams.
Deeter felt that creating the petition increased community awareness of the situation. The overall concern involves doing what is best for everyone involved. According to the survey, the community feels that the proposal does not fit the goal.
"I am not against Carbon High sports. I am however, pro Carbon School District sports. Don't sacrifice one school's sporting program for another. I understand that the district strives for success. I feel that the district can achieve greatness with the way that the system is set up now," explained Deeter.
On the other side of the spectrum, Carbon girls basketball and volleyball coach Bruce Bean supports the idea of merging the ninth grade teams with the high school. He also feels that the proposal to hire a head coach for each sport would be beneficial to the district.
The proposal to hire a head coach would allow the individual to oversee all the teams in the district in respective sports. The coach would be able to be more involved starting at the junior high level, not just at the senior high level.
"We need more cooperation from everyone involved. I would like to be part of the process of hiring junior high coaches. By having a head coach oversee all activities in the area, we would achieve better communication between coaches, which is drastically needed in the district," pointed out Bean.
"I also hope that, by combining the junior high teams with the high school, I would get more players involved. The way the current set up is, the ninth graders are missing a lot of games because of the late start that the junior highs have in their sports. This would give ninth graders more experience which is valuable in sports," contended Bean.
Other people in attendance at the school board meeting disagreed. According to residents who support the idea of combining the programs, the merger will create an opportunity to recruit more ninth grade players to the high school to compete. By mandating ninth grade players to compete at a high school level, more freshmen will become involved and that will increase the number of sophomores that currently participate in sports. By allowing the transition a year early, supporters feel more athletes will become active in their sport.
Helper Junior High boys basketball coach Bob Hyde disagrees. By forcing ninth graders to compete at the high school level, teams will "end up cutting more ninth graders than are cut currently. Ninth graders feel intimidated entering high school and competing in sports. By leaving the system alone, the players will have an extra year to mature," argues Hyde.
"I do agree that the junior high's and high school should become more involved in one another's programs, but not combine them," states Hyde. "I have never seen a high school coach come down and talk with the junior high athletes. I think that we need to see this happen and some of the intimidation the students feel about high school might fade away."
During the school board meeting, one issue was agreed upon by the majority of the crowd. Coaches must become more involved in the sporting programs at not only high school levels, but particularly at the junior high level. If hiring a head coach to oversee all programs in the district is the answer, then so be it. Athletes should be noticed before entering high school.
Jim Noyes, who coaches little league football agrees.
"It is a big thing for the kids to meet the coaches," he says. "I coach recreation football, and when high school coaches visit the players, it is an overwhelming feeling for those athletes. They will remember that coach because they visited the team. I think we should involve the coaches, not move kids."
After listening to the public's concern, the school board then addressed the subject. Board member Mike Magliocco, who originally thought up the idea of combining the teams and also hiring a head coach began by stating, "100 percent of the high school coaches are for the petition. It is in the best interest of the children. We need to involve athletes sooner and at a younger age in high school sports. The current system is failing at doing so. Regardless of what is decided upon, one thing is certain, we must have more positive community support."
Board member, Grady McEvoy remains uncertain about the topic.
"I know that we must have more involvement from the community," he says. "The teams must work together in the district. Is this proposal in the best interest of all students? I'm not sure, but it probably is not. I feel that we need to form a committee comprised of coaches, principals, community members, and athletes to discuss and research the proposal."
Walt Borla, a long time board member and lifetime district sports supporter, strongly disagrees with the proposal.
"This is not best for the kids," he states. "I feel that we need to concentrate on grades, not sports. By combining the teams, there will be considerable amounts of class time missed by both coaches and athletes. The grades are bound to fall with the missed class time. What we need is cooperation and coordination, along with coaching stability."
Superintendent David Armstrong, explains that the district does indeed have a problem with participation.
"We need to have more team visitations from the high school regarding junior high sports," sated the administrator. "I don't think that the students are fundamentally ready in ninth grade to compete at the high school."
Board member Jim Leonard completed the discussion.
"We have all agreed that the district is in need of better coaching," concluded Leonard. "I agree, we need a committee to look into the matter. We don't want to push the seventh and eighth grades aside and we also don't want to kill the junior high sporting programs. If we put as much emphasis on academics as we do athletes, test scores would go up."
Although the topic was laid to rest for the evening, the subject is bound to stir up more opinion as the weeks pass. Community involvement is a main concern for the school board, and anyone who has any input into the matter, is more than welcome to voice their opinions at the next public school board member which will be held April 10 at 5:00 p.m.
The school board also discussed the following topics at the March 13 meeting.
Construction of the new school buildings is on time. The rooms will be ready to be moved into by the end of April at Mont Harmon. The Carbon High football field will also be done and ready for action by the time football season rolls around this fall.
The school board will be selling $3 million worth of bonds in order to complete payment on the construction projects. The bonds were set aside just for this purpose. The bids for the bonds will open April 10 nationwide.