District terminates rest of North

Sanpete Middle School sports


By Linda Petersen
Staff writer

Mar. 8, 2018


MT. PLEASANT—The North Sanpete School District Board of Education has decided to discontinue the two remaining district-affiliated middle school sports programs: wrestling and girls basketball.

Club programs will continue to be able to use school-district facilities for a nominal fee, and the district will provide funding for another year to help the wrestling and girls basketball programs make the transition to being club programs.

The decision came out of a Feb. 20 school-board discussion on the logistics and costs of overseeing such programs at North Sanpete Middle School.

At that time, Superintendent Sam Ray told the school board that after its January decision to continue to fund busing of middle school wrestling team members to and from competitions, he had been approached by coaches from other sports to have their athletes bused too.

Additionally, since the school district pays the wrestling coaches a stipend, other coaches were also asking for one, he said.

“We’re looking for some direction. How far do you want to go with this?” he asked the board.

Middle school sports have evolved over the years in the North Sanpete School District. While at one point several sports were affiliated with the district, in the last several years most of them have moved to club leagues, Ray told the board.

Currently the school district only pays for busing and coach stipends ($1,300 per year) for the wrestling and girls basketball programs.

“Every other program has gone to a club team, an outside organization, so they can play more games and have a little more control on what’s going on,” North Sanpete Middle School Principal O’Dee Hansen said.

Ray and Hansen expressed concern over the lack of oversight by the school district in these programs.

Hansen said the coaches run the programs independently, choosing and paying coaches with the funds provided by the school district. He has never been approached about the hiring of coaches, approval of schedules when students leave school for games or busing, he said.

School district officials said it was unclear what the school district’s liability would be for these programs, particularly if it fulfilled the requests.

“If we go down the road with this … with paid stipends … I don’t think we can have our coaches appointing coaches. We’re going to have to go through the hiring process, which we have not done. … If you do this at the middle school level, and it blows up the way we’re talking about, it probably makes sense to have some kind of athletic director position,” Assistant Superintendent Randy Shelley said.

“We need to either fully fund and support it—I don’t know if we can afford to—or need to totally wash our hands of the whole thing. … If we’re either halfway in or halfway out, there certainly is a liability there for the district,” he said.

Board members went on to discuss issues the school district could be liable for including transportation, athlete safety and the conduct of coaches, athletes and students.

“We need to be all in or all out. If we’re all in, we can provide the controls and make sure we’re covering the liabilities, safety issues, travel issues, or we’re all out so we don’t have the liability issues,” Ray said.

After a prolonged discussion, board members agreed to discontinue sports programs at the middle school without a formal vote.

They decided to provide funding for another year to help the wrestling and girls basketball programs make the transition to being club programs.

School district officials said they would also work to find community members who would help with the two programs.

“I think we need to try to continue to build these two programs. Both of them are struggling. We need to provide whatever support we can for them. If this isn’t the support we can provide for them, maybe there are other supports we can provide to help those programs get off the ground,” Ray said.

At the same meeting the board voted to deed the former Fountain Green school property and building, which has been used as a city hall for several years, to Fountain Green City.

City officials recently decided to sell the building but discovered during a title search that there was an agreement in place that the property would revert to the school district if the building were ever sold.

Fountain Green Mayor Willard Wood told board members the city had two buyers. He said if he could get city council approval, he would like to pay the district a cash settlement if the building is sold rather than continuing to have agreements to take care of property the district owns in Fountain Green.