No-cut policy to be reconsidered
DeSoto junior high school students may have to earn their way onto their school's athletic teams next year if the school board moves forward with a proposal to get rid of the district's current no-cut policy.
Too many students and not enough coaches has caused the board to rethink its current policy of allowing all junior high students who try out for a team to participate. Rod Petersen, who next year will serve as the district's athletic coordinator, presented the proposal to board members Tuesday night at their regular meeting. Petersen explained the proposal was drafted by a sports and activities subcommittee consisting of himself, two coaches from each of the district's two junior high schools and six parents.
The proposal would effect the school's basketball and volleyball teams as well as their cheerleader squads. Petersen said the schools have a hard time keeping coaches because they have too many students to supervise during team practices and games.
"We're seeing 50 kids come out for one sport," he said. "That's not even safe."
The subcommittee could not decide how many cheerleader squads there should be or how many cheerleaders should be on each squad, Petersen said. One option would be to have four squads, one for each season, including football, volleyball, girls basketball and boys basketball, he said. A second option would be to have two seasons with two chances for the students to try out.
Finally, the subcommittee suggested students only be allowed to participate in one sport or activity per season. "You either cheer or you play sports," Petersen said.
Basketball and volleyball teams would be limited to about 25 players to a team, with each school having two teams. The subcommittee suggested leaving the exact number up to the coaches.
Petersen said the large student participation has created both financial and administrative hardships.
"We had 80 cheerleaders last year, all fully outfitted at $150 each," he said. "And we had two cheerleader sponsors this year who said, 'I'm done.' From a staff of about 25 to 28 people, they're hard to find."
To ensure that no students are denied the chance to play the sport of their choice, the subcommittee suggested an intramural program be held on Saturdays for students who don't make the teams.
DeSoto Superintendent Marilyn Layman told board members she wanted them to think carefully about what a switch in policy would mean.
"Our policy (on the junior high level) has always been to let all who want to play, play. To let all who want to participate, participate. We would be switching to a more competitive philosophy," she said.
Board member Bill Waye said he had mixed feelings about the proposal.
"I would prefer the middle schools to be places where people have an opportunity to find out what skills they have," he said. "But I understand it would be difficult, if not impossible to coach that many kids. I know I wouldn't want to do it."
The council asked Petersen to take the proposal back to the full sports and activities committee and to report his findings to them at a future meeting.
In another growth-related issue, board members voted unanimously not to accept any more out-of-district transfers, with the exception of the children of district employees. The district currently accepts out-of-district students if the parents agree to pay tuition costs. There are currently 12 students attending DeSoto schools who live outside the district. The board voted to allow those students to stay under a grandfather clause.
Board members also discussed the possibility of entering into a joint venture with the city of DeSoto to build a swimming pool at DeSoto High. Board members have previously considered offering to donate land on the high school grounds for the joint venture if the city would pick up the cost of building the pool.
Layman said she has heard city officials may be interested in the joint project and asked board members for some guidance. Layman did not know if city officials would accept the district's offer of donating the land or if they would want the district to pass a bond.
Board President Sandra Thierer said if any bond money is used, a similar offer should be made to Shawnee for the new high school in that city.
"We would be asking the entire district, so there would have to be some sort of reciprocation," she said.
Board members decided to allow Layman to talk to DeSoto city officials about the matter.