Coaches should consider getting all kids some playing time during lower-level games, but equitable playing time will not be mandatory under a new athletic philosophy the Highland Board of Education adopted on Monday.
“The whole purpose for this was to have a guide in place. Sometimes things happen in sports where kids are left out. We are trying to find common ground and to bring back a good foundation to build off of,” said Board of Education President Rene Friedel. “We just want to have something in place to remind everyone to not get caught up in the sport itself.”
The new philosophy focuses on developing athletic skills at lower levels (elementary and middle school) versus a more competitive philosophy at the higher levels (high school).
“Playing time is dependent on the coach, and winning is valued, but at the lower levels, playing time should be considered,” the new philosophy states.
In July, many parents, coaches and student athletes voiced their complaints, about a policy proposal that would have mandated equal playing time for all athletes.
School Board members said they subsequently met with Highland Middle School Athletic Director Liz Weder and Highland High School Athletic Director Caleb Houchins several times to develop the philosophy that was adopted Monday, which makes no mention of equitable playing time.
“Before the approval of the current philosophy, we had an older guide that did not address the needs of our students. This new document defines our district’s core beliefs and what we feel is important. It’s a document that serves as a visual reminder to students, staff, and community to reinforce our belief in team spirit and positive sportsmanship,” Houchins said. “We believe our policy will have a positive impact on our athletes. Creating the new philosophy has opened up dialog that includes the voices of students, community members and staff. This policy is the result of a collaborative process. We are happy to have another tool we can use to serve our students and community.”
“I think this is an enhanced vision of what they are already doing,” Friedel said. “I think it protects the coaches as well. This philosophy shows coaches what sports in our district is about. We trust the coaches and their abilities.”
The new philosophy also addresses a variety of other issues coaches and players face including cutting players.
“If the number of students trying out for a team creates a situation that is unmanageable, then reducing team size may be necessary,” the philosophy states. “Participation by student athletes in any program will be subject to the coach’s consideration of academic grades, behavioral issues, attendance, abilities, and performance.”
At the middle school level, the new philosophy focuses on teaching students basic skills, game rules, and fundamentals, while targeting “social and emotional growth and healthy competition.”
“A lot of our sports are different than they were years ago. It’s getting more competitive, but we want to help everyone realize that there is a growth in sports,” Friedel said. “Everyone thought we were trying to change things. We weren’t trying to change things. We were trying to put a guide to help with any gray areas.”
The philosophy for the middle school hones in on developing an understanding for sports, while developing skills and camaraderie.
“Middle school JV teams shall focus on the instructional aspects of each specific program. Along with winning, player and skill development will play a crucial role in the program,” the philosophy states. “Setting high expectations helps students rise to meet the challenge. At this level, there will be a greater emphasis placed on healthy competition. Teams shall strive to win conference, regional and state championships.”
At the high school level, the new philosophy will guide coaches to build off what the students have been taught at the middle school level.
“Freshman and sophomore teams will build on the development and instruction that took place at the middle school,” the philosophy states. “These teams shall continue to develop student athletes by promoting skills and character development.”
Like the levels before it, the junior varsity level continues to build on the development and instruction from the previous level, while the varsity level allows coaches to focus on “the outcome of the contests” and that it will be the “primary concern for coaches and their staff.”
Other Board Action
New head lice protocol approved
One of the other main focuses of the evening was changing the head lice management protocol. Superintendent Mike Sutton said he is recommending the new changes take effect immediately, and changes be made to the handbooks.
“We are recommending a revision of our policy to align our procedures with the National Association of School Nurses, Centers of Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics. These organizations guide our professional school nursing practices,” the district’s school nurses wrote in a memo to the Board of Education. “We presently have an antiquated head lice policy excluding all children from school with nits and/or live lice. Head lice is not a public health concern. It is simply a nuisance.”
The nurses also said that children should not be stigmatized and their privacy should be a priority.
The new protocol states that if a student is found with live lice, the parent will be called. The parent can pick up the child and treat the live lice and return the child to school the same day. They can be returned to class with nits. All students with live lice will not be able to return to school the next day if not treated.
Head lice is not a public health threat and the average head lice transmission in school is very low (0.3 percent). Medical professionals said protecting the student’s confidentiality is a priority and lice are a “nuisance, but have not been shown to spread disease.”
There is also a new schedule for the location of future Board of Education meetings:
▪ Oct. 24, 2016: Highland Middle School;
▪ Nov. 28, 2016: Highland Administration Center;
▪ Dec. 19, 2016: Alhambra Primary;
▪ Jan. 23, 2017: Highland Administration Center;
▪ Feb. 27, 2017: Highland Elementary;
▪ March 27, 2017: Highland Administration Center;
▪ April 24, 2017: Highland High School;
▪ May 22, 2017: Highland Administration Center; and
▪ June 26, 2017: Highland Administration Center.
The board also approved of the following personnel changes:
▪ Stephanie Cummings, program assistant at HMS;
▪ Beth Clark, part-time RtI interventionist at Grantfork Elementary;
▪ Conner Kurrle, program assistant at Highland Primary;
▪ Angie Powers, seventh grade girls basketball coach at HMS;
▪ Jodie Ramsey, sophomore class sponsor at HHS;
▪ Haley Reidelberger, volunteer band instructor at HHS;
▪ Devonn DeLong, volunteer band instructor at HHS;
▪ Bryson Harmann, volunteer band instructor at HHS;
▪ Robert Jacobs, volunteer band instructor at HHS; and
▪ Jess Andrews, volunteer band instructor at HHS.
Change of Personnel:
▪ Jody Johnson, from seventh grade girls basketball coach to eighth grade girls basketball coach at HMS.
The Leadwell Program
Representatives with Leadwell — a program that reduces medical costs for large organizations — gave a presentation of the program to the board on how they could save the district money.
The focus of the program is saving money on medical claims and insurance premiums by grouping employers together to employ a doctor or nurse practitioner to serve basic medical needs of their staff. This prevents them from visiting a doctor and paying costly co-pays. The premise is that this will reduce the amount of claims on insurance, thereby reducing future premiums.
The benefit to the staff is very small co-pays or no co-pays and lower rates. The downside for the district is the up-front cost of the program while lower rates will not benefit the district directly.
This agenda item was not up for approval Monday, but rather was brought up for possible future consideration.
FFA trips approved
Superintendent Mike Sutton asked for the board’s approval of FFA trips to New York and Ireland. Normally, trips like this don’t need board approval, but this would be the first year the FFA will travel to these locations, so Sutton brought it before the board. The board unanimously approved the FFA’s requests.