In an article at Clarkcountytoday.com the Battle Ground School Board/District announced that, starting in 2021, sports would be added to middle schools. There is also an article in The Reflector: http://www.thereflector.com/opinion/article_01bee760-5cc3-11ea-a1fe-4709a174dc06.html \
In an effort to gather accurate information we reached out to the district and asked a series of questions.
Their responses are below:
March 3, 2020
To: Battle Ground School District Board
Re: Middle school sports
In a story: https://www.clarkcountytoday.com/sports/battle-ground-gears-up-for-return-of-middle-school-sports/ you announced the return ( you said after a 38 year absence) of sports to middle schools starting next year (2021). It is mentioned that this is being done in response to surveys and more levy money (due to the $1/$1000 increase imposed as part of the 2019/20 budget process).
As a taxpayer and interested citizen I would appreciate responses to the following questions:
1) How many students (broken out by male and female if possible) do you anticipate will participate in the supported sports?
Response: This is unknown – forecasting will be done to determine demand.
2) Can you clarify which sports will be offered?
Response: Year 1 Basketball, soccer, cross country
3) What is the projected cost of the middle school sports activities? Startup, ongoing annual projected costs and difference between student fees and actual costs (how much of a deficit will it run)? I assume there is a projected budget for the program so sharing that would be useful.
Response: There will be two different categories from which to draw money:
1. ASB generated by student/family fees. There will be a one time ASB fee and then an activity fee for each sport a student participates in. We have not set the fee yet but do not see it being more than $50.00. Currently the activity fee at the HS level $85.00 per sport. This revenue source is projected to pay for and cover the cost of transportation, officials, game workers, and replacement items (over time).
2. Levy/District Expense – Initial start up costs, this year’s budget – approximately $300,000.00. Coaches Stipends and other employee related costs – 2020-2021 school year (Tier 1) – approximately $420,000.00. Tier 2 implementation, as we add sports beyond – approximately $480,000.00 to $520,000.00
4) How will you measure/judge success of the program?
Response: We will rely on our MS principals to help evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
5) Is the addition permanent or will it be evaluated at a designated point in time and if so when?
Response: I hesitate to say permanent; however the program will be evaluated with the budget annually
6) Is there any sort of physical evaluation prior to participation?
Response: A sports physical will be required
7) Is there a student cost and if so what?
Response: It will depend on the # of sports and # of kids in the family, but yes a nominal fee will be required, 40 to 50 dollars range
8) Are there any liability issues or insurance risks and so what have you evaluated?
Response: We will be covered through our insurance and student will need to have insurance to play. Insurance will be offered during the clearing process for families to purchase. Basically, we will be following all the same process and procedures, legally and liability wise, like we do for HS sports, including the Athletic Code and Academic Eligibility.
9) Is there a GPA or other requirement/criteria for a student to participate and if so what?
Response: WIAA requires 1.7 min gpa.
If you have any sort of report or evaluation that you prepared and used as you considered the action I would appreciate receiving a copy as well.
10) Did they consider doing a survey of middle school students/parents asking they if they would be interested in sports and if so which one’s before deciding to implement the program?
Response: We are in the process of working on a survey for families, that Rita is putting together, which is one reason we have not finalized everything yet. We did do our Title IX survey last year and included 6-11 graders on the survey so we do have some interest data, although it is not exactly easy to put it all together. This was the first year we included middle schoolers on the survey.
Last we asked if there was any other information they wanted to share. We got this from the School Board President (Troy McCoy):
- “I think we might be the only district in the state that does not offer MS sports. Kids have different strengths and in my opinion and in my experience MS sports offers a positive experience associated with school that some will not get without said sports. Does it benefit everyone? No, but does any elective? Principals have already reported kids are already asking, what do my grades have to be to take part. It adds so many life lessons, teamwork, sacrifice, and especially learning how to deal with a loss. I think the greater question is why did we eliminate it?”
- Editor note regarding Mr. McCoy’s statements: “Might be the only district without MS sports”? Might want to check first. “No, but does any elective?” Thought this was sports after school and not a class…so sports would not be an educational elective since there is no grade. “Why did we eliminate it?” Guess if it was dropped 38 years ago the Board/District didn’t think it was worthwhile or worth the cost or participation was too low or some other reason(s)? Must still be people around who they could ask or perhaps something in the records (maybe they didn’t keep records then)?
Other Thoughts & Questions:
- They didn’t do a survey of students and parents before deciding to implement middle school sports…but they are going to do one. Seems backwards. Hopefully they’ll provide the details, costs, requirements, etc., to get an accurate read. Wouldn’t it make sense to get as good an idea as possible to project the budget and resource needs before deciding to add a whole new program? [Note: When they come back to the public in 2021 for a renewal of the levy they will cite the loss of middle school sports if the levy fails – among other programs]
- Are there other educational programs that they could have supported that would have been more popular? Music? Debate? Art? Others? Instead of sports? Wonder if a survey could have pulled that out? [Example: If the district had extra money which of the following would you choose?] Wasn’t there a big deal about choir being cut due to lack of money? Not clear if alternate activities were fully explored or a decision to add sports was the focus.
- Given the physical state of some of the middle school facilities (according to the district in past bond efforts) could the money being used have been directed to improving facilities before adding sports?
Judge the value and process for yourself. From our standpoint it appears that someone(s) wanted sports in middle school, it felt good and they had extra money from the levy increase. Perhaps if they had done a survey of students and parents and laid everything out they would have a better sense of costs and interest? Physical activity is great. Learning about winning and losing is important. But…following a process is also incumbent on those in charge. Maybe we’ll get more information…if we do…we will amend the article and share it.