The Board of Education is being asked to give it's blessing for the formation of a baseball program for boys and a softball program for girls at DeKalb West School, at no cost to the school system
Jeff McMillen, speaking on behalf of a group of interested parents and students at DeKalb West, made the request during Thursday night's school board meeting.
McMillen had also sent a letter to Director of Schools Mark Willoughby and to DeKalb West School Principal Danny Parkerson on August 7th.
In the letter, McMillen wrote "The DeKalb West Baseball Team will be made up of students enrolled in DeKalb County grades 6th, 7th, & 8th (including DeKalb Middle students) provided DeKalb Middle does not have a baseball program. The DeKalb West Softball team will be made up of DeKalb West students in grades 6th, 7th, & 8th." (DeKalb Middle has a softball program).
"Students will need to maintain their academic grades as they would if they participated in basketball or cheering at DeKalb West."
"The teams would have a head coach that will be a parent volunteer who will be approved by the principal and or director of schools and will attend any training classes that other coaches in the county are required to attend. Any other volunteer coach that will be present on the field or in the dug-out, may also need to be approved (but may not be required to attend any classes)"
"The baseball team would use the existing field at DeKalb West and the softball team would have access to the softball field located in Alexandria. Practices for softball could be conducted at the West School. Games can start as early as 3:30 p.m. so lighting will not be a problem. Transportation to and from practice and games will be provided by parents or guardians."
"DeKalb West parents will form a Booster Club at the discretion of the principal and director of schools for providing funding for these sports. There will be no cost to the school system for uniforms, or equipment for startup of the league unless volunteered to do so. Any required monies will be deposited with the school at the schools request such as gate receipts and umpire fees, etc."
"A list of Middle School teams with baseball/softball can be provided upon request."
"This is a great opportunity for DeKalb West and the DeKalb County School System to broaden the opportunities given to the children of our system. DeKalb West has only basketball and cheerleading offered. This could allow more children an opportunity to participate in school-organized sports. The facility that DeKalb West has is another great reason for starting basketball/softball at DeKalb West not to mention the support that will be given by parents and businesses in our community. Under hard economic times, it would not be appropriate to ask for tax dollars for funding, but we will get the commitment for funding from parents and businesses in our community before starting."
In his remarks to the school board Thursday night, McMillen said " At this time, we are requesting permission to pursue the possibility of starting these programs. Much work will need to be done to make this happen, and time will be important because schools will be filling their schedules soon and the middle school will be having their tryouts for the girls soon."
"Organized school sports are good for the kids, good for the school, and good for the parents and everyone else involved. Kids who are involved in sports are less likely to be problem students at school or in the classroom. They know to play sports, you are expected to make good grades, not be a problem student in class and outside of class, respect teachers and school personnel, be responsible, and give 100% effort."
"DeKalb County has always been known for its baseball and we would hope these programs would be a stepping stone to the next level of play. If I understand correctly, anytime you offer a boys sport, you are required to offer a girls sport. We approached the parents of girls at the West School and they came up with offering softball. We know that it already exists at DeKalb Middle School, which is a good program, but they feel that this will allow more kids an opportunity to be involved. I would hope this would not create any problems between the schools, students, or parents."
"When I was asked to help organize a baseball team, I tried to think about how it will affect my child, his school, and me as a parent. My thoughts are that if this extra playing helps develop him into a better player, better student, and better individual, it will be good for him. It can have a positive impact on the school by providing more opportunity for kids to participate, teach responsibility, and the importance of good grades, not to mention staying out of trouble. And as a parent, I know if it's good for my child, it's going to be good for other kids too."
"The question of ‘can you be competitive' has been asked and I don't think anybody can truly answer that until you play the games. All programs have rebuilding years and I would consider starting a new program as a building year. I do know a lot of kids I've been around do have a big heart and I also think a good program is about more than just wins and losses."
"Another question asked is ‘what happens when you're gone'? I can assure you none of us are irreplaceable. There will be someone that will take your place. We're not going into this with the attitude that it won't work, but in the event it doesn't, the school system will not be out any money."
"For this to become a reality, the school principal, the school board, and director must support it. Without it, this will not work."
The school board will study the issue in more detail during a workshop set for September 21st and make a final decision on the request at the next school board meeting on October 8th.