Seattle Schools Work Sessions Wrap-Up - Athletics

I attended three Work Sessions last week and here are highlights


I have to say this one seemed to be one of the less dry and more animated Work Sessions that I have attended in years.

It had been two years since the last update from the Athletics department.  It was reported that SPS has the highest academic standards for its athletes in the state.  However, when asked about participation rates vis a vis other districts, the department reported it did not track those figures.  One astonishing fact is that Garfield, with just student athletes (900), is bigger than Cleveland.

The unevenness of the number of participants is somewhat troubling and does make for problems.  For example there is no JV baseball team at Rainier Beach (it wasn't explained why - lack of interest or money or both). Roosevelt has 100(!) swimmers but some schools have none. 

While everyone was happy about Roosevelt, Ballard and Garfield joining the other SPS schools in the Metro league, it was stated that about half the schools will still play games on the Eastside. 

Director Patu asked a good question about the money for advertising going to athletics.  Pegi McEvoy said there had been some discussion at the Operations Committee about the issues with revenue and it was put on-hold for other work.  (Meaning, the revenue is going to the General Fund.)

It was announced that Ballard would have a sponsorship with Nike (not dollars but in-kind donations).  Apparently, all student athletes have a Nike logo on their uniforms but Ballard struck its own deal with Nike for about $10k worth of contributions.

The Seattle Reign, the Seattle women's soccer team, is to have some clinics with soccer players.

The Athletics department passed the state audit "with flying colors" but the Auditor warned that there needed to be more oversight of trainers (who are mostly independent contractors) at schools.

The department is also trying to be proactive in marketing Metro basketball and trying to get that tournament in Key Arena which would probably generate some good dollars for the district.

It was also announced that the district would have a football series, the Memorial Classic, on September 13th at Memorial Stadium.  There will be five games that day.  Again, this would be to raise money for athletics.  (This harkens back to decades back - I've seen photos in the district archives.  Very cool to see hundreds of kids in their band uniforms on the field all marching together.)
President Peaslee suggested getting Macklemore to perform at half-time.

Athletics has a severe problem recruiting and keeping good coaches as the district has the lowest paid coaches in the state.  It was also pointed out that that SPS is one of the few districts in the country to run three leagues of sports.

I was surprised to hear that Pay for Play money goes into the General Fund (there are just some baseline funds going from that money to athletics).  I believe they said most of it goes to ASB.

Director Blanford, still catching up, asked if there was a reduction for F/RL students (yes, there is).  He also asked for figures on the revenue and staff did not have them on-hand.  This was odd as you'd think if you were giving an overview of your department once every two years, revenue would be something you would expect to be asked about.

Director Patu asked for data on how athletics connects to academics and how it helps close gaps.  McEvoy said that is a "theory of action" that the staff would like to see data on as well.  Director Martin-Morris chimed in that Hale DID have that data and that athletes at Hale outperform those who don't participate in after-school activities.

(I pause at this point to say that is correlation, not causation.  And, athletics are not the only after-school activity.  I did write to Principal Hudson and she said they had just used data from the student survey and it was not that detailed.)

One issue that has come forward is the Unified Sports program sponsored by Special Olympics.  (It was noted at last night's Board meeting that several Board members had attended the opening session of Unified Sports at Ingraham on Saturday, March 29th. Apparently, it was a very good and inspiring turnout.)  More schools are to be added next year and yet there will be less administrative support from Special Olympics.  This will add to the workload for the Athletics department and may need a coordinator for its own.

The last thing on Looking Forward/Next Steps didn't get discussed and so I'm not sure what it means.

Middle school feeder pattern programs have been receiving a lot of focus from the WIAA recently. This is an area that the district will have to focus on in the near future.

Anyone know what this issue is?


mirmac1 said…
I would like to post the thoughts of a friend with a student active in Unified Sports:

"I love unified sports. I love that students with disabilities get to take lead roles in sporting activities.

My concerns are detailed in the SEAAC position paper on First Class Citizenship for Students with Disabilities. The concerns are that unified sports should not become yet another silo for people with disabilities, and should not be the only sports option. It should be a place in a continuum of opportunities, like all services. There are not a lot of opportunities other than unified sports and clubs at this time.

Unified also has a few notable detractions. 1. There's no professional staff. This fact is highly inequitable. 2. There is little emphasis on true improvement in skill acquisition at a high level. 3. There is no fidelity to the various sports. 4. Unified is another form of 2nd class citizenship in the sporting world, in terms of staff and venue (eg. no professional staff or coaches, and vastly reduced access to fields, equipment, uniforms, no transportation etc.) Basically it's all volunteer.. This is unequal support for people with disabilities."

I wanted to post this because, as I sat in the board meeting last night, I was struck by how the Superintendent and Directors sounded in discussing the Unified Sports tournament on Saturday I want them to know that there is much districtwork to be done, starting with bonafide investment - in the form of staff and resources. Finally, I look forward to the day when events like the district-wide tournament last weekend are old news and just the way we roll in SPS...
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