High and middle schools’ track programs to merge

Published 10:30 am Friday, January 25, 2013

The Albert Lea high school and middle school track and field programs will merge; Albert Lea school board approved the change Tuesday.

Chris Chalmers

Activities Director Chris Chalmers and track and field coaches Margo Wayne and Kevin Gentz approached the school board with the proposed change.

Effective for the upcoming spring season, all seventh- through 12th-graders will be in the same program. The coaches explained to the school board that middle school competitors experience few competitions and by combining the programs, students will have more opportunities.

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“By combining everything we could meet more of out students’ needs,” Wayne said.

The two coaches also said they hoped it would bolster participation numbers at the middle school level.

“I think it provides incentive for seventh-graders to become involved,” Gentz said.

The coaches explained that all students would be better served if the coaches from both programs could work together to help the students.

Superintendent Mike Funk said that the change wouldn’t increase the program’s budget. One impact would be that seventh-graders would have to pay the larger activity fee for participating in a high school program.

Jeshua Erickson

School board member Jeshua Erickson, who has coached middle-schoolers in track and field, said he was glad to see the programs combining.

“This is just really exciting,” Erickson said. “It’s a great use of resources.”

In other action, the board:

• Heard from Human Resources Director Jim Quiram about the 2012-2014 master contract with the district’s support staff. The contract was approved.

• Heard from Funk about various activities going on in the district, such as the spelling bee on Thursday and the science fair that will be on Feb. 23. Funk also asked the board members about their opinions on video conferencing during official school board meetings. Members asked Funk to check with the school’s lawyer to address privacy issues. School board Chairwoman Linda Laurie attended Tuesday’s meeting via video chat while on vacation in Bora Bora. The board’s Vice Chairman Mark Ciota also attended the meeting via video chat from California.

• Gave a certificate of appreciation to teacher Mary Jo Dorman. Dorman facilitated a large donation of books to the district and continues to be an advocate for helping students with reading and language arts.

• Heard from Lakeview Elementary School Principal Eric Hudspith, and several teachers, about the work that Title I and Alternative Delivery of Specialized Instructional Services staff have been doing. The teachers explained that the extra programs help those students who are not in special education but need extra help to meet state standards.

• Listened to school board member reports. Most school board members spoke about their experience at the annual Minnesota School Board Association conference and what seminars they attended.

• Heard from the board’s student member Jacob Jensen about activities at the high school. Jensen mentioned that Winterfest was in full swing and that the second semester had just started and students were getting used to their new class schedules.