Friday, October 31, 2014

Central Heights sticking with practice during school hours

By ABBY ECKEL, Herald Staff Writer | 11/20/2013

RICHMOND — After months of discussion and a survey issued to parents at parent-teacher conferences in October, the Central Heights school board decided to keep middle school athletic practices during the school day.

Options presented to parents during conferences included leaving practices as currently scheduled; lengthening sports practices to 4 p.m.; and moving practices to before and/or after school.

RICHMOND — After months of discussion and a survey issued to parents at parent-teacher conferences in October, the Central Heights school board decided to keep middle school athletic practices during the school day.

Options presented to parents during conferences included leaving practices as currently scheduled; lengthening sports practices to 4 p.m.; and moving practices to before and/or after school.

The results revealed that 79 parents chose the first option, 36 chose the second, and 60 chose the third, the school board reported. After reviewing the numbers, the board chose not to take any action on the issue, leaving middle school practices at their current time, White said.

Before making the decision, the board asked Scott Lane, middle and high school girls basketball coach, for his thoughts on a possible scheduling change.

“I can only speak to indoor sports confidently because that’s where my skin of the game is,” Lane said. “I really caution what we’re doing with this.”

Middle school athletes now practice during the last hour of the school day, opting out of an elective class for seventh hour, Jim White, superintendent, said. The issue Lane sees, he said, with moving middle school practice to after school or even before school, is that the number of students participating in middle school athletics would decrease.

“We’ve struggled to keep our numbers up,” Lane said at Monday night’s board meeting. “Kids live in 20 different directions around here, and I can tell you we fear what it could do to our numbers and that’s where we’re at.”

The number of middle school students participating in sports is at an all-time high, Bud Welch, middle school principal, said, and he too fears those numbers would drop if practice time was changed.

“We have 87 percent [of middle school students] this fall that are involved in extra-curricular activity,” Welch said previously. “Whereas, I think most schools will get about 40 percent, and we have 84 out of 98 students involved in activities.”

There are pros and cons to having practice during school hours and after school, Welch said. One likely concern for parents, he said, is that some kids might not be able to participate if practice was moved to after school.

“I’m the middle school principal so I’ve got to be able to speak for all students, not just a certain group of students,” Welch said. “We have some students that I don’t think would be allowed to participate if we did [practice] after school, whether for economic reasons or they have no transportation because their parents are working — things like that. And students there deserve to compete just like anyone else.”

Just because middle school practice is scheduled during the last hour of the school day, doesn’t mean athletes can’t practice after school, Lane said.

“If you want to [practice] after school, you can — there’s nothing stopping it,” Lane said. “I told any eighth-graders when we had a work day, that if they wanted to come in and work they could come in and work. If you can coordinate with the parents now to bring them in when there’s a gym open, do it. But if we went completely after school there would be kids where parents can’t come get them at times or take them to morning practice so they wouldn’t have the ability to go out, and we need them to go out and develop their skills in eighth grade.”

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