School board moves one step closer to adding BHS girls soccer program
Baldwin High School female soccer players are one step closer to having their own program next year, but one important step still remains.
The USD 348 Board of Education must approve the program, which parents are proposing to fully fund for the first three years.
However, one large step was taken Monday night. The school board approved a motion, which allow BHS Activities Director Gary Stevanus to start making a schedule for a girls’ soccer team in the spring of 2012.
The school board didn’t approve the program, because it wanted to review the policy for adding new sports or programs. Some of the board members had issues with policy and that it wasn’t completely followed when the co-ed soccer program was added earlier this decade.
The board did approve a three-year trial period for the program. The parents agreed to fully fund the program for the first three years, instead of the stair-step payment plan that’s in the district’s policy.
The parent advocates have proposed a similar agreement to the board. Since uniforms, equipment and a field are already established, the parents will be paying for coaches, transportation and officials for games.
“Right now, what’s relevant to the kids is having a girls soccer program,” said Board Member Ruth Barkley, who was an integral part of starting the soccer program before joining the board. “We have interest, and we have an opportunity to do it without impacting the budget. It worked before. I can attest to that.”
She wasn’t the only former soccer parent on the board to support adding the program.
“I think we need to give it a chance,” School Board President Allison Bauer said. “My daughter played soccer for four years. Her senior year she was a varsity player all year long, and she maybe played 15 minutes in a few games. She played JV, and it was hard for her to be a varsity player and playing JV. I think if we can remain budget neutral and look at future options. It’s something I support.”
Several other board members said they were OK with adding the program, but wanted to do it through existing policy.
“I’m on board,” Board member Scott Lauridsen said. “I just want to do it the right way.”
The right way includes reviewing the current policy and setting a payment date for the first year of the funds for the program. Both of those items were discussed at Monday’s meeting, but will be on the table again at the May 9 meeting.
The other two issues brought up Monday were the district’s budget and Title IX. The school board briefly discussed the impact of the budget, but mostly after the three-year fully funded trial ends.
“The first is our budget,” Dorathy said. “Everyone is well aware where our budget is, and we don’t have money to add any new programs. If we do add this, we will have to make a decision down the road whether to keep this program or drop another, especially if our budget situation doesn’t improve in two or three years.”
The final topic was Title IX, which ensures equal athletic opportunities for both sexes. BHS offers six boys, five girls and three co-ed sports. The addition of girls soccer would even the boys and girls sports and decrease the co-ed sports two just wrestling and golf.
“It would make it better,” Stevanus said. “It would give us the same number of girls sports and boys sports. As far as participation percentage wise, it probably wouldn’t be a big enough swing to balance us, but it would get us close.”
After the Title IX discussion, Dorathy did give his 2 cents about what he would do as far as adding the program.
“I guess if you’re asking me for a recommendation, I think we need to see what it looks like,” he said. “The parents are going to have to support this for a while. Then we evaluate the entire program in two or three years. When that time comes and we are still in the same budget situation, the decision will have to be made to choose this program or something else.”
Parents and students came to the board meeting and voiced their opinions early Monday night. Six parents and five BHS players spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting about why the girls soccer program should be added at BHS.
The topic will be on agenda at the May 9 meeting.