Thin attendance at first middle school travel task force meeting

Only three people showed up for the first meeting on Sunday of a community task force looking at Juneau middle school travel policies.

Jon Kurland created the task force after the Juneau School Board in September adopted a ban of all out-of-town middle school athletic travel. The ban takes effect next school year.

He said he’s just getting the word out and will be reaching out to the Floyd Dryden and Dzantik’i Heeni middle school communities.

He’s calling the open-to-all body the Stakeholder Committee on Middle School Sports Travel.

Unlike picketers and other community opponents of the school board’s ban, Kurland said this is not a de facto repeal effort.

“I’m not trying to hide the fact that I’m hoping we’re gonna get to a place where the board can say ‘yes’ to middle school travel, I think that’s very much the goal,” Kurland said. “But I don’t think it’s going to be as simple just having the board reverse its September decision. I think we’re probably going to have to come up with a new framework that has different conditions attached to it so the board can feel comfortable that that’s an option that they can get behind.”

Kurland had lobbied the Juneau School Board for official participation in the committee. The board didn’t assign any staff or board members to it, but said it’s “acknowledging” the committee’s creation, and will hear the task force’s recommendations in the spring. The committee aims to have final recommendations ready by the end of February.

Kurland is a parent, though he doesn’t have a personal stake in the travel ban. His youngest child will be in high school when it takes effect.

“I recognize the educational and social value of teen travel opportunities and I think we owe it to these kids to take a harder look at this problem and try to explore solutions to create those opportunities,” Kurland said.

The committee’s next meeting has not been set, but people interested in participating can find updates on the Facebook group Save Our Middle School Sports – Juneau, Alaska or by emailing Kurland directly at JonKurland1@gmail.com.

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