Board votes down high school swim teams
The DeSoto school board turned down a request to introduce competitive swimming this year, but agreed to develop guidelines governing the consideration of new activity programs.
At its Sept. 18 meeting, the board was presented with a request from Karen Swisher and Joe Grinstead that it offer competitive swimming through an agreement with St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
Under the arrangement, Swisher and Grinstead's daughter Kristen a champion swimmer in the Shawnee city league and student at Mill Valley and other interested district students would compete for Thomas Aquinas during regular season meets. During state-sponsored regional and state competitions, however, the swimmers would compete for their own high schools.
Those choosing to participate in swimming would be responsible for their own transportation to and from practices and meets, Swisher said. The arrangement wouldn't cost the district anything, she said.
Superintendent Marilyn Layman said that might not be the case in the future.
"It ends up being an expense," she said. "If it grow to 10 or 15 students, there is an obligation. It's a question of how far our resources will go. We're so overwhelmed with the opening of new schools. Give us some time to settle in."
The district is in preliminary discussions with the cities of DeSoto and Shawnee about adding pools to both DeSoto and Mill Valley high schools, Layman said. It would make sense to add swimming if either pool is built.
Board member Marsha Bennett assured the parents that competitive swimming has been on the board's agenda for some time and that the board needed to "seriously consider" adding swimming and girls soccer.
Swisher said she and Grinstead worked out the arrangement with Thomas Aquinas after requesting the district offer competitive swimming last year. They brought the request to the district activity committee and the board only to see it rejected for "nonprofessional" reasons, Swisher said.
"What is the criteria for a new program?" Swisher asked. "Might I suggest you owe it to your constituency to outline the criteria by which you will approve new programs."
Such a policy was needed, the board agreed, and indicated it would ask the district's activity committee to compile a list of guidelines that a new program would have to meet. But board member Sandra Thierer reminded Swisher the final decision to create new programs rests with the board.
"It could be totally justified, but we will still say no," she said.