Twice-A-Week: School Board OKs Elementary Basketball Schedules

TONY STINNETT, Courier Co-Editor

The Cannon County School Board voted 4-1 to approve the elementary basketball schedules for the upcoming season during its monthly meeting Thursday (Oct. 14).

Board member Mike Mayfield made the motion to approve the schedule as it was presented by the six grammar school principals and it was seconded by board member Shannon Davenport. Mayfield, Davenport, Chris Blackburn and Cathy Hyatt voted in favor and chairman Randy Gannon voted against it.

The vote came after much discussion regarding two games per week being scheduled as opposed to the traditional one game per week schedule that has been in place for the last several years.

Hyatt pointed out this should not be a Board decision.

“I’m not even sure how this made it to the agenda because as a Board this is not our job,” Hyatt said. “We are not into the day-to-day running of the school. That’s why we hire directors, principals and teachers, so I’m not sure how this made it to us; however, that being said, it did make it here and I have researched this issue.”

The schedule change was initially a topic of conversation at the Board’s workshop Oct. 12 and parents had the opportunity to voice their opinion.

Most complained that two grammar school games per week would put a strain on students academically, it would put a bind on parents who work outside of the county and it would create a financial hardship for some parents who can not afford to attend two grammar school and two high school games per week.

Hyatt eased the problem of financial burden when she informed the audience, and Board, that she had contacted every principal regarding the financial hardship and all agreed to let those parents attend free on weeks where multiple games were played.

Davenport also pointed out that if students were not playing two games a week, they still would be practicing.

“When we don’t have games on Monday those students are practicing,” Davenport said. “Each of those teams have already scheduled two-hour practice slots every Monday they are not playing. I understand where the parents who don’t want two games a week are coming from but then I go look at practice schedules and each of the elementary schools have practices scheduled on Monday for two hours. Even if you don’t have a game you are going to take your child to that practice.”

East Side Principal Karen King, who serves as president of the Principal Study Council, explained the rational for scheduling multiple games during a week while also pointing out that there are only four weeks out of the 10-week schedule where schools would play multiple games.

“Last year we played basketball from October until the last week of February and part of that was due to inclement weather,” King said. “It stretched the season. Because students practice on nights they didn’t play they were busy with basketball until the end of February. That only left us three uninterrupted weeks before TCAP tests.”

King said each principal from the respective schools were in favor the schedule. Principals from Auburn, East Side, Short Mountain, Woodland and West Side voted for the schedule that was presented. Woodbury Grammar Principal Bonnie Patterson opted not to vote as she is entering her first year as principal at the elementary level.

“With the new schedule we only play two games a week for four weeks,” King said. “Most parents I have talked to realized it was not that much when you consider everything will be done by mid-February and we will have eight full weeks where our students will be doing nothing but school work. As educators that was the basis of our decision.”

Davenport pointed out that parents have to make the decision of whether their child will play sports and maintain their academics or not play sports to focus more on school demands.

“If there was not a game scheduled on Monday night then these basketball players will be practicing so what’s the difference between a two-hour game and a two-hour practice,” Davenport said. “You have to make the decision (as parents). You either want your child to play sports and do what it takes as far as disciplining yourself on getting academic work done. I’m all for sports and everyone knows that, but sometimes you have to make decisions as parents.”

In other business Thursday, the Cannon County School Board, approved elementary basketball coaches, as well as the schedules. In some cases the coaches are volunteers and do not teach or work at the school.

Director of Schools Barbara Parker asked the Board’s permission to begin a program where all volunteer coaches are fingerprinted and have a background check conducted on them.

“We, by state law and board policy, fingerprint everyone we pay,” Parker said. “We don’t pay volunteer coaches so we don’t fingerprint them. I would like permission to have all volunteer coaches fingerprinted and do background checks. They spend a lot of time working with our students after hours. I think it is good policy for us to have this in place.”

The Board unanimously approved Parker’s request but Davenport indicated the schools should pay for the background checks as opposed to the individual. Parker indicated the cost is $40.

The Board also awarded McMinnville Sherrill Pest Control with the pest control bid for county schools. McMinnville Sherrill had the low bid of $408 and currently had the county schools contract. It also approved the Carpentry Shop Proposal of just more than $40,000 to complete a project.