Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Webster County schools look to start boys soccer program

by Matt Hughes
J-E News Editor
“We’re going to have boys soccer at Webster County High School  next school year,” Interim Superintendent Pete Galloway told supporters of the movement to create the new sports program in Webster County.
It was a bold statement from Galloway, but, at least vocally, he had the support of the school board.
“Athletics is a piece of the academic puzzle,” said board member Mickey Dunbar. “If we commit to improving our academics, we need to commit to improving athletics. It will create new opportunity for our students.”
The measure was not up for vote on Monday, but it was on the agenda to be discussed. A group of parents, represented by Allison McCormick, approached the board in the fall with a request to launch the new program for next school year. At that time the board offered guidance on how to proceed, and told Webster County High School Athletic Director Matt Bell to look into it.
Galloway presented his recommendation to the board, suggesting that the district adopt not only boys soccer, but also co-ed archery as official school sponsored sports. The catch being that to create two new teams, the board will have to find the funding to hire at least two additional coaches.
“When I got here I spoke with Matt Bell and he suggested the gender equity committee felt that at this point we needed to adjust salaries of existing athletic coaches rather than spreading the salaries thinner by hiring two new coaches,” said Galloway. “We talked about where WC coaching salaries match up with surrounding district salaries. It was an embarrassment. If we are going to be  in the top 20% of districts  in the state academically, we are going to expect to have those same standards athletically.”
Galloway’s proposal included a $6,000 - 7,000 increase next school year to hire the new coaches and to provide the existing staff with much needed raises. But that budget is pending on a two percent increase proposed in the Governor’s new state budget.
“I am volunteering to coach boys soccer free of charge to get this going until a coach can be found,” said Troy Grant, the coach of the webster County girls’ soccer team.
“Please don’t let money table this issue,” pleaded Matt Pratt, an assistant with the girl’s team and commissioner of the Webster County youth soccer league.
Allison McCormick asked superintendent Galloway if the next step was to take the proposal to the to high school site based committee, but he told her that this wasn’t a site based decision.
At this point it is unclear whether there will be enough interest to have both a varsity and JV squad, that will depend on how interest meetings the rest of this school year go. The hope of everyone involved is that the addition of the boy’s program will allow the district to hold onto students that have otherwise transferred to schools that had a boy’s soccer program.
“Henderson County has boasted that they have five of our boys on their soccer team,” McCormick told the board. “Maybe this will help us convince them to come back.”
In other business, the school board voted to increase meal prices for the 2014-2015 school year. Breakfast will be going from $1.40 to 1.50, while lunch will increase from $1.90 to $2.00.
Earlier this year Food Service Director Shane Bosaw spoke with the board about the need to increase prices. Currently the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reimburses food services $2.65 for every child on the free lunch program. The FDA is requiring schools to begin raising meal prices to match the reimbursement price if they want to continue to receive federal funds.
The board also voted on Monday night to hire Kem, Duguid & Associates from Hopkinsville to be their new auditor, cutting ties with long time district auditor Mike Overby.
Galloway pointed out that this was in no way a negative mark towards Overby.
“The KSBA recommends that school boards change auditors every four or five years just to get a fresh look,” he said. 

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