Archive for Thursday, February 11, 2010

Merle Venable complex a possibility

School board asks for policy regarding naming facilities

Legendary Baldwin High School football coach Merle Venable will have the sports complex around the high school named after him. The Baldwin School Board approved the motion at its Aug. 9 meeting.

Legendary Baldwin High School football coach Merle Venable will have the sports complex around the high school named after him. The Baldwin School Board approved the motion at its Aug. 9 meeting.

February 11, 2010

Merle Venable might become the first former Baldwin High School coach or teacher to have his or her name attached to a sports facility.

Baldwin School Board Member Scott Lauridsen briefly introduced the idea to honor his former coach at the January meeting and it was an agenda item Monday night. His proposal calls for naming the BHS soccer field and practice track facility the Merle Venable Sports Complex.

“The idea has been bounced around by former players for a long time,” Lauridsen said. “The ideal situation would be if we had a district football field, but we don’t and may never, based on our good situation with Baker. This is something that’s been on a lot of people’s minds for a long time and we’re trying to now move it forward. We can’t wait until we have a football field out there, because that may never happen. I wanted to do something, if everybody feels it’s appropriate.”

When Lauridsen first mentioned his proposal, he suggested naming the track and soccer field complex north of BHS after Venable. However, since then he has considered adding the two practice football fields west of BHS to the complex that would bear Venable’s name.

Lauridsen considered the idea because Venable was a long-time football coach at BHS. Various people have suggested the football fields should be part of a complex named after the coach.

“That remains to be seen,” Lauridsen said. “I think it’s open for discussion. In my mind, it would be the whole thing. That’s really not the important part, because it can always be changed. The important part is that something viable is named after him. In my mind, it’s the whole place, but that could be open for discussion.”

The proposal made the agenda Monday night and Lauridsen hoped for a possible approval. The discussion began with School Board President Alison Bauer asking if the board should create a policy regarding naming facilities.

Supt. Paul Dorathy said he talked to the Kansas Association of School Boards about the idea. Then he found several school districts that have policies for this type of proposal and he sent those to the school board members.

“I am in favor of it and I don’t have a problem with the idea,” said Board Member Ruth Barkley. “However, I don’t think the board should do this without a policy.”

In the end, Bauer asked Dorathy to create a policy that the board could review next month. Lauridsen’s proposal should be reviewed next month and he was fine with that decision.

“I am a proponent of policy, so anytime we do something for the first time, the board wants to approach it carefully as possible,” he said. “We will put a policy in place and follow it so that we have something to point to. We don’t want it to become a free-for-all. I understand it’s frustrating that we never move as quickly as we want, but I understand the need for policy, absolutely.”

Venable came to BHS in 1966 and left in 1984, but came back as a substitute teacher for many years. During his 19-year tenure, he was head football and track coach every year. He led the Bulldogs to a state championship in 1981 and state runners-up in 1971 and 1978.

When asked on Tuesday about the proposal, Venable said he hadn’t heard anything about it.

“I wasn’t aware of it,” he said. “I’m very surprised and very honored. I don’t know what all it entails, but it’s a great idea if it works.”

Lauridsen and other former players have created a Facebook group for supporters of his proposal. He read two excerpts from the group Monday night, but later expressed his feelings about Venable.

“Nobody mentions that they learned football from him,” Lauridsen said. “They learned all of these other things from him about how to succeed. He always challenged us to be successful in school and life. It was the kids who needed the most help who he identified with. The star players probably got less out of it than the other kids did.

“He cared about you more as a person than a player,” he said. “It’s just evident by how he’s kept in touch with all of his former players. He’s more proud of what they’ve done after they played for him than when they played for him. That’s what he loves the most. He cared about us as people and football just happened to be his language. He just happened to be really good at it.”

Comments

averagejoe 4 years, 2 months ago

Speaking from a legal and community "best interest" standpoint, the issue of naming public school facilities after people, regardless of whether they were past employees, good or bad employees, or someone's favorite coach, is never a good idea, nor is it clear-cut legally in the state of Kansas.

It is extremely unfortunate that this school board member chose such a poor and classless method to present this idea; in a public forum with the namee's identity now in the newspaper for all to see. It's now front page news and extremely difficult, if not impossible to accompish.

Consider the fact that it is possible that a majority of residents could just be against this proposal (regardless of the namee). No one knows for sure at this time.

Given the fact that this school board member has not exactly benefited the community of tapped-out taxpayers by making a huge blunder that cost Baldwin residents several hundred thousand dollars several years ago, perhaps he should consider some serious consideration of issues before jumping into matters, public or private.

No disrespect is intended to Mr. Venable what-so-ever. This comment is not about him personally.

It is completely inappropriate to start naming public school facilities after people who a small group of "fans" and misguided school board members "select" on their own.

The fact that the issue has to be presentated to the state office of education illustrates why the naming of public, taxpayer funded school facilities is purposely made difficult, if not impossible.

With all the problems and issues that the school district and school board should be professionally and seriously addressing with budget problems, laid off employees, educational standards, this issue of naming facilities is not what elected civil and public servants should devote time towards.

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averagejoe 4 years, 2 months ago

Speaking from a legal and community “best interest” standpoint, the issue of naming public school facilities after people, regardless of whether they were past employees, good or bad employees, hired or fired employees or someone's favorite coach, is not a good idea, nor is it clear-cut legally in the state of Kansas. This school board has more important issues to address on behalf of the taxpayers.

It is extremely unfortunate that this school board member chose such a poor and unprofessional method to present this idea; in a public forum with the namee's identity now in the newspaper for all to see. It's now front page news and extremely difficult, if not impossible to accomplish. How embarrassing it would become now if the public voices opposition to naming this facility or it is simply not possible.

Consider the fact that it is possible that a currently silent majority of residents could just be against this proposal (regardless of the namee). No one knows for sure at this time.

Where does the naming stop? How about the hundreds of teachers and coaches who provided stellar learning and coaching for the past 100 years in Baldwin. Let’s name the tennis courts, the basketball court, the drama and debating classrooms. Do we let the class of 1942, 1977, 1933, 1987 or 1995 class name buildings for their favorite, trophy winning coach? What class of 1987 member knows of the superior teacher or coach loved by the class of 1942? Why is Coach X from 1995 any more deserving that Coach Y from 1942?

Given the fact that this school board member has not exactly benefited the community of tapped-out taxpayers by making a huge blunder that cost Baldwin taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars several years ago, perhaps he should consider some serious consideration of issues before jumping into matters, public or private.

No disrespect is intended to Mr. Venable what-so-ever. This comment is not about him personally. This comment is solely regarding the process, the public appeal or community benefit of this proposal.

It is completely inappropriate to start naming public school facilities after people who a small group of “fans” and misguided school board members “select” on their own. Name one facility, name all facilities. Who decides what gets named after who? When does it start to cost taxpayers and the school district to name 10, 20 or more facilities and satisfy every former student who had a favorite teacher or coach over the past 100 years?

The fact that the issue has to be formalized in a “process” illustrates why the naming of public, taxpayer funded school facilities is purposely made difficult, if not impossible.

With all the problems and issues that the school district and school board should be professionally and seriously addressing with budget problems, laid off employees, educational standards, this issue of naming facilities is not what elected civil and public servants should devote time towards.

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mommie2boogie 4 years, 2 months ago

how exactly is this going to be paid for? i mean, its already too expensive to live in baldwin as it is..... is NOW the best time?

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mommie2boogie 4 years, 2 months ago

quote: With all the problems and issues that the school district and school board should be professionally and seriously addressing with budget problems, laid off employees, educational standards, this issue of naming facilities is not what elected civil and public servants should devote time towards.

Exactly. Mr Venable is very well known here, and how are people going to say 'no' now that its out in the open and this is what may happen. I remember mr venable back in high school and he was quite a character! BUT, the timing for this is not a good one.

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Julie Craig 4 years, 2 months ago

Wow joe. That's a lot of baggage to put on one school board member's shoulders.

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mommie2boogie 4 years, 2 months ago

sad but true greatgazoo, but i think the reason that is, is because he is the main one really publicly promoting it. Even with a facebook page....

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frsam 4 years, 1 month ago

averagejoe get a life, why not name this for the only coach in BHS history to win Football state championship.

We need heros lets do the right thing

I set up the facebook page not Scott

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averagejoe 4 years, 1 month ago

Discuss the issue, frsam. Insults just demeans your opinion. Kindly stick to the topic and the high road.

You are no more qualified than I am to be demanding that ALL Baldwin City taxpayers foot the bill for a small group's coach worship.

These funds for rewarding coaches should go to save the jobs of those school district employees who have been laid off in this economy. The School Board has more important issues to tackle.

Mr. Venable is not the only BHS coach to win a state sports championship. There were many from the past 100 years. More than 10 coachs, including cross country, basketball, wrestling and tennis before and during Mr. Venable's tenure.

Why is your choice any more important than a 1958 graduate who thinks his coach or teacher is more deserving?

I like Merle personally. My opinion is only regarding the procedure and worthiness of the general idea.

But reward every coach in every sport or reward none. Small groups of hyper fans shouldn't make these decisions effecting all BHS graduates over 100 years.

This is why you cannot only reward one coach and one era. There were championship coaches in the 1940's, 1950's, etc.

The whole thing gets out of control, is costly to taxpayers and causes community infighting over who is rewarded and who isn't.

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averagejoe 4 years, 1 month ago

A better approach is for "frsam" and Mr. Lauridsen and their small group is to privately raise $10,000 and ask the School Board to allocate a small area of space at a sports-related location on school property and have a monument built to highlight and reward ALL deserving and championship coaches.

It's not the responsibility for all Baldwin City taxpayers to pay for naming sports fields that a small, overzealous group decides is their dream coach from their own glory days of high school. We should not have to pay so some people can re-live their high school days, generally speaking. No offense considered or intended.

You get unbiased,non-agenda representatives from all BHS graduating classes or eras and make your coach selections or criteria representing the total scope of 100 years of high school experiences.

The school district can then agree to maintain the monument after it has been privately funded and installed and it highlights all of our high school coach experiences in all sports.

More than 50% of Baldwin City's population did not even live in town during Mr. Venable's tenure. They don't even know him or the other previous coaches.

Including all coaches and the whole BHS graduating pool of people, and it would be very easy to raise $10,000 privately.

Put up a privately funded monument to all BHS championship coaches and let people learn about ALL of these coaches who we should all be proud and appreciative of.

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