School board to explore swim team proposal
Students petition district, expressing interest in swimming
A swim team could be in Basehor-Linwood High School's future.
Julie Finley, a parent with children in the district, acted as the spokesperson Monday for a large group of students and parents interested in starting a BLHS swim team. The group presented to the school board a petition signed by more than 100 middle school students and nearly 100 high school students who have an interest in swimming.
Finley said there is not only an interest in the community for a swim team, but many of the young students already are on teams.
"These are actually championship swimmers," Finley said about students attending the board meeting. "We have middle school students who are only breaths away from state qualifying times."
Several of the students at the meeting swim on the Bonner Springs Swim Club Team, which is not associated with Bonner Springs High School swim team. Finley said children as young as 8 already have received medals in the sport. Regular exercise helps students do better in school, she said. Having a swim team at the high school would benefit all students.
"Swimming is an ideal, lifelong sport," she said. "It is the number one recommended exercise by the American Heart Association."
She explained to board members that swimming is different from other sports. Most sports compete against schools of the same class such as 3A or 4A, but swimmers compete individually for the best times.
"In other sports, only a limited number of kids get to play, but in swimming everybody gets to play," Finley said. "There is no minimum requirement, nobody is turned away and nobody sits on the bench. It only opens the door for many students who may not be eligible for other sports."
Joe Keeler, BLHS assistant principal and athletic director, also presented some data he gathered about swim teams to board members.
He estimated that facility rental for two seasons -- boys in the winter and girls in the spring -- would be $7,000 to $8,000. Students would pay for their own uniforms and another $1,500 would be set aside for some meet entries and incidentals.
He said the facilities that he looked at already are booked with practices in the afternoon for other teams, so practices would most likely have to be before school.
Bonner Springs High uses the pool at Bonner Springs YMCA, and Piper and Bishop Ward, who share a team, use the pool at the Savior Pastoral Center in Kansas City, Kan. Keeler said transportation options would depend on the site of practices. The number of coaches required also would depend on the number of team members.
While the signatures on the petitions showed a large interest in starting a team, school board members questioned the actual number of students who would go out for a high school swim team.
"It sounds like there is a lot of interest, but will other sports pull interest down?" board member Kerry Mueller asked. "There is a strong interest, but the reality could be smaller numbers because of conflicts."
"Let's get those numbers," Randy Cunningham, board president said. "Let's do some polling at the high school and get back to us."
School officials said they would need to do some research before making any decision on adding a swim team at the high school.
"We're looking at a year from now because it's something you have to budget for," said Superintendent Robert Albers.
In other matters Monday, board members discussed an option for a bond election proposal.
This change in the organizational structure of schools was suggested: Kindergarten through fourth grade in one facility; fifth through eighth grade in another facility; and ninth through 12 grade in another.
The board would have to look at either building a new building to accommodate the fifth through eighth grade or using the current high school building to house those grade levels and build a new high school.
"When we first started talking about this, I thought, what an off-the-wall idea," Mueller said. "But, as I've been thinking about it, I would like to hear what the community has to say about it."
The board gave Albers the go-ahead to contact an architect about the matter. After cost estimates and other facts are gathered, the proposal will go to the community for feedback.
In other matters Monday night, the board:
- Received a $5,000 donation to the Basehor-Linwood Education Foundation from J.R. Riley of Riley and Sons of Leavenworth. "For a community to thrive, the schools are the foundation," Riley said. "We wanted to say thanks and give a donation to the education foundation. We hope you can put it to very good use."
- Approved, 6-0, auditor's contract at a cost of $5,500.
- Approved on first reading, 6-0, the Board of Education Policy Chapter A.
- Approved, 6-0, a request for a dance team trip. Three members of the BLHS Dazzler's dance team will travel in November to New York to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
- Approved, 6-0, a request for an FBLA trip to Denver.
- Appointed Dayna Miller as the delegate for the Kansas Association of School Boards convention Dec. 1-3 in Wichita. Kerry Mueller and Randy Cunningham will be alternates.
- Approved, 6-0, two appointments: Josh Jones, Linwood custodian, and Ryan Hefley, middle school wrestling coach. The board also approved, 6-0, two resignations: Susan Beck, Linwood custodian, and Mareta Albrecht, food service at BLHS.