Baseball issue brought to school board

By Jenny Kirk

MARSHALL – The Marshall Public School Board took action on one item, was introduced to one presentation and had discussions about four other issues at the work session meeting Monday at Marshall Middle School.

Joe Andries and Chace Pollock addressed the board, asking for the school board to consider allowing the junior high baseball team to be run through the district rather than through Marshall Area Youth Baseball Association (MAYBA), as it has been for a number of years. Andries, president of MAYBA, pointed out some of the challenges the club organization was having, which included practice scheduling difficulties, coaching contract issues and transportation challenges.

“We want junior high baseball to be part of the district again, like it used to be,” Andries said. “It would be a zero budget impact to the district.”

Pollock, the current Marshall High School head baseball coach, also pointed out some benefits of being part of the district again, including the process of keeping track of students’ academic progress.

“The move would allow us to keep track of kids,” he said. “We can pull up their grades and make sure they’re passing their classes, which would be a lot more like the high school program. We’d be able to keep on top of issues with student-athletes.”

In response to questions posed by board member Curt Kovash, MPS activities director Bruce Remme drew from his knowledge of the past.

“At one time, junior high baseball was run through and funded through the school,” Remme said. “It was a budget reduction some years back. That was before my time here. It was cut and then MAYBA picked it up.”

Remme also noted that the district did offer a variety of programs, such as track, to students at area parochial schools.

“If they offer their own program, like volleyball, they stay there for it,” he said. “If they don’t offer a certain activity, we offer them that opportunity. And most parochial schools don’t offer baseball.”

MPS Superintendent Klint Willert asked Remme if the addition of junior high baseball in the district would cause any Title IX issues. Remme stated that it would not affect Title IX.

After some discussion about student fees and family caps, Kovash asked Andries if MAYBA would be willing to kick in some funds if needed. Andries replied that MAYBA is willing to fund the transition and effort for three years, noting that there were currently 61 kids ages 13 and 14 signed up for baseball this spring.

“For three years, MAYBA would fund this and then we would revisit it at that time,” Andries said.

Board member Bill Mulso asked if the next board meeting was too late to approve the request. But Andries reassured him, pointing out that since the season is drawing near, funds had already been collected.

“MAYBA is taking care of things right now, but if the request is approved, those funds would immediately be transferred to the district,” Andries said.

Board member Matt Coleman asked if a schedule had been set yet and Pollock replied that one had not been set yet. Remme noted that to his knowledge, every other school that he has contact with offers its own junior high baseball program, which makes scheduling much easier.

The board is expected to take action on the junior high baseball request at the next board meeting.

Business director Bruce Lamprecht reported that integration funding, which the district has been watching legislative action for, is now being called integration and achievement funding. Willert noted that the emphasis had also changed.

“Before, if District X was racially isolated and District Y was not, you could get together and do something,” Willert said. “Now, it’s more about what you’re doing to close the achievement gap and provide opportunities for under-served populations. So with our college and career readiness, world’s best workforce and ACT preparation, we’re trying to cover a few stones at once.”

Lamprecht also reported that the day marked the first full day for students and staff at the new Marshall Area Technology and Education Center (MA-TEC) location.

“It was the first full day for students and the first that daycare was provided,” Lamprecht said. “The past few weeks, there were a number of kinks to work out, but there was good cooperation between the staff and students to get things done.”

Board members also discussed the school calendar for 2014-15 and 2015-16, specifically about whether or not snow days should be built into the schedule.

“If the goal is student achievement, then it’s not the best idea to add the snow days on at the end of the year,” Willert said.

Willert found that in the past six or seven years, there was an average of three snow days each year.

“I like that snow days are built into the schedule,” Mulso said. “It takes ambiguity out of it.”

Willert asked the board to take one final glance at the Facilities Study that took place a few weeks back.

“If we go forward, I would expect a return date of April 23rd from agencies,” he said. “This involves our facilities plan for five, 10 or even 15 years out. I have my thumbprint on this, with the authorization of it, but I need to know if it really captures what you were envisioning.”

The board seemed in favor of moving forward with the process.

“We’ll cast the ship out then and see where we sail,” Willert said. “We’ll start the process going.”

The board also discussed moving the April 7 meeting to the following week though no action was taken yet.

The board approved a scheduling change for the next meeting, moving the regular date from March 17 to March 25. The board meeting will continue being held at 5:30 p.m., but the location will change to a different location.