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- Published on Tuesday, 10 July 2012 19:47
Superintendent listens to public's concerns, but cites challenges in allocating funds for the adjustment
Daily Elk Citian
The idea of re-integrating junior high athletics into the school day was again brought to light during Monday night's Elk City School Board meeting.
On May 16, several parents met with superintendent Buddy Wood and athletic director Bill Weatherly, to voice their concerns over the current system, which has seventh and eighth grade athletics occurring outside of the school day.
On Monday, Wood said that while Weatherly, Elk City coaches, and himself all agreed the change would be a positive, there is currently not enough money in the budget to make that happen.
"Extra curricular and academics are a big part of education," Wood said. "But I want to take care of academics first. That has to be my first charge."
If junior high athletics occurred during first hour, at least four high school coaches would shed their teaching roles to take part in overseeing those practices. The hole would leave a need for new teachers, whose combined salary would carve $160,000 out of the school's budget, which Wood said has been ravaged by cutbacks from the state.
Several parents attending the meeting continued to voice their opinions that, if a change to be made in junior high athletics is agreed upon, then now is still the best time to make the adjustment.
"I don't think, with all the budget cuts, that we'll ever find another $160,000 lying around. If you each agree this is the right thing to do, then now is the time to do the right thing," Toye Crouch said. "We have a $1 million carryover, and $160,000 is a fraction of that."
Individuals with such concerns are parents of children in junior high athletics, and affirm that those athletes are not receiving quality experiences at that level, leaving them ill-equipped when they reach high school. In accordance with those claims, if junior high sports were overseen by high school coaches, the overall competitiveness of Elk City athletics would increase.
"We've been talking about this for months and months, and I know everyone is on board for this," Donnie Kerr said. "I have a kid going into 8th grade, and those kids are suffering big time. We're getting beat by 30 to 45 points a game in basketball."
Wood said he appreciated the comments and their accompanying urgency, but could not give a green light to such a change at this juncture. More than anything, Wood said, he has an responsibility to the future of Elk City Public Schools to keep a balanced budget.
"Give us the time," Wood said. "When I think I can get it done, I'll do whatever we need to do, but give us some time and let the board ponder this."