Archive for Wednesday, August 14, 2002

Basehor-Linwood expands athletic cut policy

August 14, 2002

Although school officials in Tonganoxie have fought a cut policy for Chieftain athletics, Basehor-Linwood has expanded its cut policy to the middle school.

But the neighboring district's rule change stems from a problem many districts are facing now a decline in state funding.

BLMS athletics director Tom Cooper said the cuts will help combat the financial crunch the school is facing because of state funding.

"We didn't want to cut into academics," Cooper said.

The policy will be implemented in volleyball and boys and girls basketball. Each team will have 16 eighth-grade and 16 seventh-grade members. Each team will have two coaches, compared to four or five in past years. With fewer players come fewer games, which translate into fewer expenses for travel and officials.

The school board considered cutting out seventh-grade sports, but Cooper disagreed with that option.

"That would have been no good," he said.

Since the middle school opened in 1988, enrollment has been on a steady increase, Cooper said. And, it's been even bigger in the last three to four years. Having one gym for 70 volleyball players, for example, isn't productive, Cooper said.

Tonganoxie has taken a different view of cut policies.

The local school board has made several efforts in the last year to avoid a cut policy. Assistant junior high principal Darren Neas didn't expect for that to change on the junior high level anytime soon.

"That's not a middle school philosophy," Neas said. "We don't foresee ever having one."

The policy might not be needed, as teams on the high school level haven't had to use the measure in the last five years.

Cooper hasn't heard any feedback at BLMS yet.

"We will find out," he said. "I don't think it has hit in yet until those first round of cuts.

"It's great for money and space. Hopefully they realize that's why we're doing it. We're not doing it to damage the kids."

When practice begins Monday, coaches will evaluate volleyball players for three to four days and then make a decision. All students will have a face-to-face conversation with the head coach after the tryouts about the decision.

The district is looking at a bond issue in the next year that would include a new middle school with the possibility of two new gyms. That would solve a space problem for teams, but Cooper predicts the cut policy to stay intact.

"Anything is possible," he said. "It will probably be the norm for awhile."

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