Education board weighs benefit of school day practices
April 08. 2014 6:24PM
BALTIC – Junior high athletes at Baltic School use part of the school day to practice with teammates, but school officials here aren’t sure that’s in the best interest of students and staff.
Student-athletes in grades seven and eight spend the final portion of the school day with teammates while their peers, who don’t participate in sports, end the day with a traditional physical education course.
“It’s every day for the last half of the last block, so it’s about 44 minutes a day. The PE ends at the end of the school day, and the practice continues on to about 4 o’clock,” Bob Sittig, Baltic School Superintendent, said at the Baltic School Board meeting Tuesday, April 1.
The district’s Strategic Planning Committee, comprised of teachers, administrators and board members, recommended changing policy to prohibit classroom time from being used for sports practice.
Moving practices outside of the school day would give administrators and students greater flexibility when building course schedules, said Jim Aisenbrey, Baltic High School Principal.
“Right now all the core classes have to be first, second or third block because the seventh and eight graders have the sports,” he said. “If we moved it outside the school day, seventh and eighth graders could have computers the whole year verses just part of the year.”
The recommended policy also would allow the district to establish a uniform PE curriculum, Aisenbrey said.
Not everyone agrees.
Sittig said moving practices outside of the school day would cost the district more money because compensation for junior high coaches would increase.
“There will be an extra cost involved. They’d be putting more time in outside of their school day,” he said.
Any teachers who take on expanded roles as a result of any change would also need a pay bump, Sittig said.
“If we’re getting more computer time, somebody has to teach that,” he said.
Baltic activities director Steve Gunderson said a change could hurt the school’s athletic programs.
“Sioux Valley, they said they run practices 5:30 at night and 6 o’clock in the morning for their junior high. In the winter they’ve had many called off because of the possibility of no school, or at night because they needed to get the kids home on the bus,” he said. “They lost a lot of practice time.”
Changing policy probably isn’t popular with parents and coaches either, Sittig said.
“We met with the head coaches of all our sports and they are overwhelmingly opposed to doing this,” he said. “And it’s a huge inconvenience for some of the families.”
The Baltic School Board unanimously voted against the Strategic Planning Committee’s recommendation, citing the potential for increased burden on junior high parents, student-athletes and coaches.
“I think it’s going to be tough on parents, and I think it’s going to be tough to get coaches,” said Darin Larson, school board member.