Middle school sports travel task force on schedule for recommendations

Floyd Dryden Middle School athletes continue to travel to games this school year.  That will end next year unless the ban is modified.  Photo by Rosemarie Alexander.

Floyd Dryden Middle School athletes continue to travel to games this school year. That will end next year unless the ban is modified. Photo by Rosemarie Alexander.

A community task force on middle school sports travel expects to have draft recommendations finished by the end of the month.

The group is called the Stakeholder Committee on Middle School Sports Travel, chaired by parent Jon Kurland, whose children are out of middle school and would not benefit if policies changed.

In September, the Juneau School Board imposed a ban on all travel for middle school athletes, to go into effect next year.  Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School eliminated sports travel last year. The board’s action extended it to Floyd Dryden students.

Kurland asked the board to create a committee to look at the policy, but the board said it would not be involved. The task force is comprised of parents, district officials, teachers and coaches.

Instead, the board will consider recommendations from the committee in the spring.

Kurland told school board members Tuesday he plans to have a draft to middle school principals and site councils in January.

“We want to get feedback from additional folks. They will doubtless point out areas that can be improved. We will make those improvements, we will build in that feedback and then we will come back to you with a final report, most likely in February,” Kurland said.

In an interview with KTOO, Kurland addressed what he called a misconception that school district funds are used for middle school travel.

“There are appropriated district funds that are used for travel at the high school level, but at the middle school level they’ve relied on fundraising for a long time,” he said. “There are some ancillary costs. There are costs of substitute teachers when the teacher coaches travel, and classes need to be covered. There are staff costs in just making the arrangements for travel and the logistics and so forth.  I don’t mean to suggest there’s no cost at all, but the actual cost of ferry tickets and what have you is not something the district’s been  paying for in the past.”

Kurland said the task force is following the school board’s direction to get the report and recommendations to members in time to take action at the May meeting – that’s if they agree the policy banning middle school sports travel should be changed.

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