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Middle School Athletics Discussion Dominates Board Meeting

Daniel Prince

Board amends policy to allow coaches to recommend middle schoolers for JV or varsity level with AD and superintendent approval

Most of the discussion at Monday night’s school board meeting concerned the board’s decision last month to vote on a policy regarding middle school participation in high school sports. Jessica Sherbert asked to address the board about that. She said as a parent and a taxpayer, she had concerns that the policy seemed to be written in a way to eliminate the option for middle school athletes to participate in JV sports. She also said that the superintendent did not present it as an action item but for information, as it was a draft document. She said that about a year, the superintendent, director of administration, athletic directors, and coaches came up with guidelines for middle school participation in high school sports at a JV or varsity level, which called for clear communication among all parties, the option for a parent or player to decline the option to move up, and that the athlete would be an active participant of the team. She said the addition of the 50% rule to the motion last month, which required that an athlete moving up play at least 50% of the time is not enforceable. She said the athletic handbook was presented to the board several months back and did not require a vote by the board, yet these guidelines, which would be added to that same handbook, apparently did. She also said that even though a small number of athletes have moved up to the high school level in the past, middle school athletic rosters have remained full. She said the decision should be given over to the top-level administration and not micromanaged by the board. She gave the board members a copy of suggested guidelines for them to consider as she closed her presentation.

Following Superintendent Joey Haney’s update on the guidelines, board member Mike Massey made a motion to amend the guidelines to state that if a coach has a player that he or she thinks is good enough to play at the JV or varsity level, the coach should present that to the athletic director, who will look into it and then make a recommendation to the superintendent that the athlete be moved up to the JV or varsity level. The board unanimously approved the amendment. We’ll have more from the meeting, including more from the discussion surrounding last month’s board vote, in tomorrow’s newscast.

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