sports can play a valuable role in shaping the lives of many
students. Values such as discipline, teamwork, dedication can be
nurtured in well-run programs, in addition to life lessons such as
losing and winning gracefully.
There is ample evidence to support the notion that organized sports can play a valuable role in shaping the lives of many students. Values such as discipline, teamwork, dedication can be nurtured in well-run programs, in addition to life lessons such as losing and winning gracefully.
School Board trustees have professed their belief in sports programs, as well as the arts, and have attempted to support both in spite of budget woes.
Unfortunately, in the initial frenzy to chop $3.4 million from the district’s budget for the 2003-2004 school year, trustees agreed to remove $30,000 from high school sports coaching stipends.
To be sacrificed were sports with lesser levels of participation, including golf, diving and tennis. Also falling by the wayside were all ninth grade sports, including ninth grade football, a sport involved last year in considerable coaching controversy, despite the dedication of players and their families.
Trustee George Panos spoke eloquently in favor of the lesser sports, citing the need for diversity, the need to offer something for those not interested in major sports such as football, basketball and baseball.
Nevertheless, the district was facing financial hardship and trustees were cutting, to some degree, the music program and others, as well as personnel, so sports also came under the ax.
But what someone should have realized at the beginning is that the $30,000 they were planning to cut from stipends could not be cut because that would be an unilateral alteration in the collective bargaining agreement between the district and the Morgan Hill Federation of Teachers.
Now, although the coaches, players and supporters are presumably happy to have the sports reinstated, there is a time crunch for some of them. The freshman football team is scrambling to get ready for the beginning of the season in four weeks, and the girls’ tennis team will get under way Aug. 11.
Decisions on the other sports will be made later.
Trustees did the right thing by reinstating the sports; however, the reversal of their decision, combined with the reversal of a decision to start up a community day school for the district’s expelled students, is a little disconcerting. As Trustee Shellé Thomas said, “I’m not sure I’m comfortable making a decision anymore.” Trustees need to have all the facts before them, the correct facts, in order to best serve the district by making the best possible decision. Several of the trustees are vocal in requesting information when they don’t feel enough is provided; They all need to be vigilant in this respect.
While most of those who actually compile the information the trustees see are classified employees – who have had their hours cut, but not their work, and seen their co-workers laid off, but not their work – it is the top level administrators above them who need to make sure the trustees are getting what they need.
The coaching stipends could not be cut without approval from the teachers’ union. That never happened.
We wonder how the board was asked to act on a matter that first should have been part of the collective bargaining process.
On the other hand, it is an important quality, like those nurtured in well-run sports programs, to be “big enough” to admit when a mistake has been made. Also important is to rectify the mistake, which the district and the trustees have now done.
The next step is some serious finger-crossing on the part of the district that the boosters will be able to raise the funds to allow the sports to remain reinstated. Anyone interested in donating to the athletics programs should contact Booster Club President Pam Mom at 778-7860.