Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Board To Face Football Demonstration

Before they can even elect new officers, the Oyster River school board will walk past a demonstration planned by the pro-high-school-football folks.  The goal of the demonstrators, as stated in an email reproduced below, is to get "the board to vote for football TONIGHT (not next month or next year, but TONIGHT)."

I personally don't have a well-formed opinion on how the board should vote on the football question.  One thing I am pretty sure of is that it takes a while for any board to gather information, develop policy, solicit input from the community, and hear from experts.  But that's pretty much what should happen, and what I think is going to happen, before the board decides about football.  In my mind the big question isn't approval of the program so much as how the board assures that best safety practices are truly being practiced, and what the true costs, system wide and in the long run, are.    

The demonstration email, reproduced below, states "there is a very important school board meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, Room C124 in ORHS, 7 pm meeting start)."  I scoured the agenda and I think what is being referred to here is the scintillating item "Progress on Football Policy."   I checked the policy committee minutes and learned this is policy JJIF, and that there was another meeting tonight to work on it.  I have not seen a draft.

In any case, policy JJIF isn't on the list for first read.  What I think that means is there are at least two more meetings before the policy can be approved.  My guess is that the board will be inclined to wait for the policy to be approved before on voting on approving the football club team.

My prediction on how things will go:  Public comments will be long, with lots of pleading to vote to approve football tonight. The new board, with Tom Newkirk re-elected and Kenny Rotner replacing Krista Butts, will once again choose Maria Barth as chair and Tom Newkirk as vice-chair. Chairman Barth, who I believe regrets how she let the March 7th football presentation meeting get out of control, will run this meeting in more strict accordance with policy and tradition.  This basically means that after public comments are over, there will be no more public comments until the end of the meeting.  Public comments during the meeting proper will be out of order even if "a boy wants to say something."  The policy JJIF will be discussed, and scheduled for first read April 3rd.  No vote will be taken on the approval of a football club team.

Football folks, if it goes down this way, it doesn't mean you're being ignored, or the goal is to delay, or any such thing.  As a parent, you would go through a process of doing some reading, maybe talking to some people before allowing your son to play football.  You'd want to assure yourself the program was as safe as could be.  You'd want to make sure you could afford it.  The board has a similar job to do before it can responsibly allow football in the schools.   It may take some time.

From: Christina Buteau <omitted>
Date: March 19, 2013, 8:21:55 PM EDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Please Help Oyster River High School Football tomorrow Night!
We appreciate all of the people that went to the OR School Board meeting two weeks ago, signed the on-line petition, wrote letters to the school board, and wrote letters to Fosters. I can assure you that all of these things have had a big impact. We have a school board chair, a superintendent, and a HS principle that wanted to dismiss football outright, or at least table it long enough that it was effectively dismissed. The strong show of support from the community prevented this from happening. The entire school board and the HS administration realize that there are many people in our community—all of you—that support football at ORHS, and they cannot ignore you. Thank You!

There is a very important school board meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, Room C124 in ORHS, 7 pm meeting start). I respectfully request that all of you attend this meeting if at all possible. Your show of support at this meeting is absolutely critical. Please try to arrive early (by 6:15 pm) so that we can line the hallway leading to the meeting room with football supporters. We will have simple, supportive signs ready to go. By arriving early, the school board members will have to walk past you to reach the meeting room. Your presence will make a very strong statement, and spur the board to vote on the football question.

With no community involvement, the high school principle and superintendent would likely stall, request more time to do things they could have already done, ask for studies relating to the impact that football will have on soccer, etc., etc. -- anything to avoid progress; anything to avoid a vote. With your strong presence, I don’t think they’ll get away with this tactic. We do indeed have at least a few supporters on the school board and your strong presence will no doubt empower them to push the discussion forward.

There will be a Public Comment at the beginning of the meeting. This is a time when anyone present can speak to the board (3 min time limit). You are certainly welcome to speak if you wish. If you speak, please be very positive, very respectful and brief. Please end by asking the board to vote for football TONIGHT (not next month or next year, but TONIGHT).

Whether or not you speak, please make every effort to attend tomorrow (Room C124 of ORHS, arrive by 6:15 pm). And once again, thank you for your fantastic support. With your help, we have to be successful.

Let the kids play football at ORHS!

Christina Buteau

1 comment:

  1. I think there are other self-funded clubs at the High School (such as Rowing, which I believe has been entirely self-funded for years and is open to all kids at ORHS), and those clubs compete against other HS teams.

    But are there any completely self-funded varsity sports at this point in the HS? I know that some teams *started out* as self-funded but now are not. Also, is ORYA proposing that they have free use of facilities, the weight room, trainer, buses, and everything that varsity sport teams have access to? If you are using facilities and buses without paying for them, then it isn't self-funded. Who will pay the liability insurance?

    I watched the meeting on DCAT last time and saw the presentation, but I didn't see a formal proposal. It would be good to have a document explaining what they want from the district, where they would practice and play, etc. so that the district can know what it is signing on for.

    Right now, it seems unclear what the board would be voting for if the voted "for football at the High School."