School board to allow review of middle school sports travel ban

By October 16, 2013Education, Sports
Connor Norman

DZMS student Connor Norman presented the board with a petition to reconsider the board’s policy banning sports travel for middle schools.

The Juneau School Board says a community committee can review its ban on middle school travel for athletes, but it’s not likely anyone from the board will participate.

During the fifth hour of the board’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday night, long after the public had left, members agreed with Juneau parent Jon Kurland, who recommended the new approach.

At the beginning of the meeting, about 6:30 p.m., Kurland said a community task force, comprised of parents, district officials, teachers and coaches, would use a better and more transparent process to come up with an alternative to the ban imposed for the 2014 school year.

Kurland earlier this month sent a letter to the board, criticizing members for the way they reached their decision on the policy, with discussions held in the summer when many families were unaware a change was afoot.

Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School restricts sports teams from traveling to other communities for competition.  The board on Sept. 10th extended the restriction to Floyd Dryden Middle School teams.

Kurland believes a task force could come up with a more reasoned policy.

“I heard board members express a variety of policy concerns related to this issue, related to budget expenditures, related to the cost of substitute teachers, other ancillary costs, ensuring an equitable process between the schools.  I think you could charge a stakeholder committee with addressing all of those things,” Kurland told the board.

Public opposition to the policy has been growing, including among students at  DZ, where principal Molly Yerkes limited travel this year.

DZ seventh grader Connor Norman presented the board with a petition signed by DZ students.

“My sister and I collected 146 signatures from students at our school who believe that you should consider changing your mind about banning middle school sports travel,” he said, several hours before the board finally took up the request.

Connor said it was unfair for the school board to take away students’ sports travel, or the fundraising they must do for the travel.

At 11 p.m., during the Board Member Comments section of the agenda, the board took up Kurland’s idea.

Members said if a revised policy is drafted and presented to the board by March, they would agree to consider it at the April and/or May meetings, for possible adoption at the start of next school year.

The middle school travel ban affects only athletics and does not extend to other activities student groups might travel to; it is set to go into effect on July 1, 2014.

On Wednesday, board president Sally Saddler said neither the board nor the administration would be involved in the community committee.



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