The standing-room-only audience spilled out of the Barbour County Board of Education meeting room Monday, as parents, coaches and concerned residents awaited the board's decision on the possible elimination of 53 extracurricular contracts at the end of this school year due to lack of funding or need.
Board president Bob Wilkins thanked the many attendees and reminded everyone that reductions in positions must be made by March 1.
"If we find that funds are available or if the situation changes, we may rescind those cuts," Wilkins said.
Barbour All County Sports Organization President Edward Poling addressed board members during the meeting.
"There are many reasons we need to keep sports in our middle schools," Poling said. "According to uptous.org, 3 to 6 p.m. is the peak time for violent crimes, teens that are left alone are three times more likely to be in gangs and physical activity is a positive influence on concentration and retention."
"Getsports.org, sponsored by Nike, found the 10 to 16 year-olds who participate in sports are 46 percent less likely to do drugs and 27 percent less likely to drink alcohol," Poling said.
Poling asked that the elimination of the middle school sports coaching positions be postponed until the group has the opportunity to speak with board members.
Board members voted to meet with the Barbour All County Sports Organization at 6 p.m. Feb. 28 during the board's regular meeting.
"We will meet with members of the organization in our work session," Wilkins said. "We encourage all sports parents and those who want to speak to attend that meeting."
The Barbour board members entered into executive session. Upon their return, they voted unanimously to table the decision to eliminate any contracts related to middle school coaching positions. Members also voted to eliminate other extracurricular positions not related to middle school sports, including SAT chairs and co-chairs, math field day coaches, science fair coordinators, Kid Reach cooks and Project Isaac bus operators. They also voted to table the decision to eliminate 25 summer days of Agriculture education for Gene Hovatter until the meeting on Feb. 25.
Board member Joanne McConnell said the decision to table the coaching items will allow the board to gather more information from the community and the Barbour All County Sports Organization.
Wilkins reminded everyone that a decision on the possible elimination of the middle school coaching positions must be made at the Feb. 25 meeting.