By Crystal Burns
The Gibson County Special School District Board of Trustees wants to hear from as many parents as possible before making a decision on consolidating junior high basketball teams on the north end of the district.
After discussing a proposal from Brad Garner, junior high athletic director, at the district’s Dec. 10 meeting, board chairman Tom Lannom suggested a town hall be held Sunday, Jan. 10, 2 p.m. at the Gibson County High School theater for parents to share their concerns.
The proposal would create one fifth/sixth grade girls’ basketball team, one seventh/eighth grade girls’ basketball team, one fifth/sixth grade boys’ basketball team, and one seventh/eighth grade boys’ basketball team comprised of students from Dyer, Rutherford, Spring Hill, and Yorkville schools. Spring Hill and Yorkville are already consolidated and play as the Junior Pioneers.
Director of Schools Edddie Pruett said looking at the numbers of students in lower grades currently participating in basketball has created fear among some parents that their children might not have a school team on which to play. For example, the Rutherford girls’ team currently has a total of 11 players, but six of those girls are in eighth grade. Five players are needed to play a basketball game. It’s helpful to have at least 10 to scrimmage in practice, but this year’s Junior Pioneers girls’ team only has seven players.
“We’re almost looking at extinction versus survival here,” Lannon said.
Lannom also addressed what he called a misconception that coaches have pushed the board to review consolidation. He said parents have asked for the changes.
Pruett reviewed other logistics of the proposal. Each team would have one head coach and one assistant coach. Coaches would be allowed to move fifth and sixth graders up to the seventh/eighth grade team.
Seventh/eighth grade teams would play home games at GCHS. Money made from ticket sales and concessions would go back into the basketball program. Practice could be held at any of the junior high schools participating, and shuttle buses would get students to practice.
“This is a plan,” said board member Treva Maitland. “It’s not in stone. This may need to be revised as you guys see what works and what doesn’t work. Parents and coaches can feel good knowing it can be changed.”
Virtual Fridays to continue – The board agreed with Pruett that it’s best for teachers and parents to extend Virtual Fridays through January. Pruett said registration for the district’s Digital Learning Academy was at 236 as of Thursday night. Friday was the deadline. He said 236 represents about 100 less than current enrollment, but he estimated the numbers would end up in the 275 to 300 range. He recommended the board review digital enrollment at its January meeting.
Purchase – The board authorized Director of Finance & Operations Terry Cunningham to spend up to $50,000 to purchase a heavy-duty truck to replace a 2008 Ford F-350 used by the GCHS agriculture department and the district as a whole. He said the purchase is budgeted this year, and the district will look for a used vehicle.