Smaller Schools Balk At Middle Grades Sports Plan

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Basketball teams at area grammar schools, as well as middle grades sports that are offered in Cannon County but do not fall under the direction of any school, will not participate under the guidelines of the TMSAA (Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association) for the 2012-13 school year.

The Cannon County Board of Education unanimously voted to form a committee considering placing sports teams within the TMSAA; however, the issue was tabled until the August meeting and, thus, will not go into effect for the upcoming school year.

Board Chairman Randy Gannon made the motion to form a committee using the outline Director of Schools Barbara Parker had developed since the issue first came up at the May, 2012 Board meeting. Board member Shannon Davenport agreed to second the motion only if the issue was tabled until August.

“It seems we are always tabling things and the kids get put another year behind,” Davenport said. “It seems to me we are right back where we were with the Middle School forum.”

Gannon said there was a need for a committee to field concerns and questions and have those answered by TMSAA representatives prior to the August meeting.

“We have more questions than answers at this time so I suggest we put this in a committee,” Gannon said. “We need to have the concerns addressed.”

Most of the concerns at the June meeting regarded elementary basketball. Principals Karen King (East Side) and Robert Pitts (Short Mountain) brought up potential revenue losses covering thousands of dollars if schools were in the TMSAA.

If a school is a member of the TMSAA only students in grades sixth-through-eighth grades may participate. If a school uses fifth- or fourth-graders on its roster then it may not play TMSAA teams.

“If we have to use fifth graders to field (a boys or girls) basketball team then my understanding is that we can’t schedule other teams in the county that is TMSAA or going to the district tournaments,” King said. “If we can’t play all the teams in the county you are talking about $3,000-to-$4,000 of revenue out of our budget and that’s a lot for us.

“We say we don’t want a middle school but we want middle school sports. Why are we so gung-ho about middle school sports?”

Pitts had similar concerns.

“What was wrong with our elementary basketball anyway?,” Pitts asked. “Why do we need an association?”

Davenport pointed out this was more than a basketball issue.

“My concern is that we get calls from several parents about (primarily football and softball) and we have no control of those sports because they do not fall under the School Board,” Davenport said. “We had a TMSAA (assistant director Richard McWhirter) at our workshop (Monday, June 4) to answer these questions and concerns and no one showed up. It would have been nice to have these questions and concerns then so he could have answered them for us. We want to get factual information out to the public and that’s why we did this, but no one showed up pro or con. Now we have these questions. It just seems like we keep putting things off for another year.”

The Junior Lions football program and the Junior Lionettes softball program do not fall under the control of any specific school or organization. The middle school grades baseball program is a co-op program through Woodbury Grammar and does answer to the school board.

Pitts argued that only two students from Short Mountain played Junior Lions football and that basketball revenue at his school should not be a factor because of the lack of students at Short Mountain playing other sports.

“I am talking about county wide,” Davenport said. “There are students from every grammar school playing football but we have no control of that as a school board member. We get calls and complaints but we can’t act on those because they are out of our control.”

The committee to gather information about TMSAA and Cannon County schools will include two board members, two principals, the high school athletics director, a member from the Sports Council and Parker will act as the ex officio member.

A $300 fee per school and which schools would be responsible in a co-op situation were also concerns of the principals.

In other business, the board approved the in-county transfer request of Mr. and Mrs. Chip Cook to move their children from Woodland to Woodbury Grammar. The transfer passed 4-0 with Chris Blackburn recusing himself. The transfer is void if Woodbury Grammar has an overcrowding situation in the fall.

The Board did not grant an in-county transfer for Mr. and Mrs. Bryan Hughes, who wanted their daughter to attend East Side instead of Woodbury Grammar. Hughes cited attention deficit disorder as a reason for the move but agreed all of his child’s needs were being met at Woodland School “at this time.” Director of Special Education Pam Sonderman pointed out there are “60-to-70 cases of students with attention deficit disorder in Cannon County Schools. The motion failed for lack of a second.

A motion was then made by Gannon to not allow the move and it passed 3-1 with Blackburn recusing himself.

When Hughes questioned the Board as to its hesitancy to help his daughter and second the motion, Blackburn informed him of the rules put in place.

“I understand and sympathize with your situation,” Blackburn said. “I am recusing myself from all of these transfer requests because the Board has come up with policies and we work hard on these. We need to stick to our policy so I am recusing myself from all issues involving zone transfers.”

Mr. and Mrs. Keith Young were seeking an out-of-county transfer request but asked for the $1,000 fee to be waived. The Board voted 4-0 to allow the transfer but not waive the fee.

The Board also approved a bus bid to Cumberland Bus for $79,959 and it approved a two-year mowing bid to Dustin’s Lawn Service. The Board unanimously approved the 2012-13 food service budget and approved the 2012-2013 federal programs application and budget, as it also approved policy changes to adopt the State Board of Education (5.201) grievance procedures and harassment and bullying prevention policy.

It also approved Trane’s proposal to re-commission the Woodbury Grammar geothermal HVAC system at a cost of $105,736. Of that, $48,400 will be obtained through a Energy Efficient Schools Initiative Grant.

The Board will have a recess meeting for the following items at the Central Office June 21 at 6 p.m.: approve bid for Ag pavilion; approve bid for HVAC system at CCHS and approve the general budget for the 2012-13 school year.

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