PUBLIC PARTICIPATION … The Fayette Board of Education listens to community concerns regarding the girls basketball program. (PHOTO BY ANNA WOZNIAK, STAFF)
By: Anna Wozniak
The February 20, 2023 Fayette Local Board of Education meeting started at 6:28 p.m. with the pledge of allegiance and roll call.
Present were board members Jason Kessler, Mat Johnson, Jennifer Wagner, and Kirk Keiser. Not present was board member Ryan Eberly.
Johnson made a motion to approve the minutes from the organizational meeting and regular meeting on January 9th. The motion was seconded by Wagner before being unanimously approved.
Public participation began with the announcement that the girl’s basketball team’s recent loss, scoring 57-1, was “outright embarrassing.”
A call to change the culture of the school to make these girls more interested in the program and play more competitively was made.
Another concerned citizen stated that “the facts” need to be made clear. There are pros and cons to living in a small community.
The citizen noted that everyone there was there for their children, and their best interests need to always be in mind.
The citizen also expressed concerns that girls are losing interest in joining the already small program due to losses like this, and expressed dismay as these girls had all been part of winning teams in junior high.
One of the mothers of a current player then addressed the board. She expressed how part of being in sports is learning life lessons that the children will carry with them far beyond graduation.
She noted that one of those lessons is learning how to walk away from a loss of 57-1 with integrity. There will always be a loser, and being part of the losing team doesn’t make them any less of a player.
She expressed that there are times in life you have to work with people you do not like, and sports is a way for children to learn how to do that effectively.
A past member of the team, led by the same coach, tearfully remarked that the “coach can’t go play with the girls.”
“It’s the way the girls interact with each other and the relationship they have with one another” that caused them to play this way.
Another community member noted that the amount of wins these girls had in “junior high means nothing once you get to high school.”
“Having freshmen and seniors together is a completely different dynamic. The coaches do it for the kids. What’s embarrassing is how much the community is embarrassed by them.”
This community member then spoke on how she had witnessed the parents being toxic from the stands.
With emotions running high at the parental level, the girls on the team have started to resent each other.
The community member shared that she had heard one parent laugh when her daughter’s teammates would mess up, causing adult politics to permeate the cohesion of the girls’ basketball team.
The last concerned citizen to speak tied the community together, saying that “this whole community is like a family. You get into fights with your siblings sometimes.”
“Almost this same thing happened a few years ago when we listened to an upset parent and chased a good coach away. We ran ourselves into the ground over that.”
He also mentioned how enrollment is low in the program because there is a low enrollment of girls in the school.
He then spoke of the coach, remarking how “he puts in his time, heart and soul into this community.”
“This is part of being in a small community and not a coaching issue…He’s busy, and not perfect, but nobody is. He does his due diligence.”
He ended his comment saying that enrollment for these programs is hard to achieve with maybe four girls to a class, and that lower level teams have to combine grades so that there are enough players to compete.
The board then moved onto reports and updates, where the superintendent spoke about garnering grant funding for summertime meal programs.
The treasurer noted that the Audit for 2021-2022 is almost complete, and that it looks good.
The elementary school principal then relayed that they have gotten a grant to update their security systems and cameras, but that the chip shortage has made HD cameras in short supply. They are currently waiting to receive cameras to proceed with the update.
A movement was made by Johnson, seconded by Keiser, and unanimously carried to approve donations.
A motion to approve the monthly updated substitute teacher and Para list from NwoESC and to rescind motion #22-90 for Kruce Miller as the Baseball Assistant Coach for the fiscal year of 2023 was made by Johnson, seconded by Wagner, and unanimously approved.
A motion approving a one-year supplemental for Tanner Wagner as Baseball Assistant Coach for fiscal year 2023 was made by Johnson, seconded by Keiser, and approved, with one vote being abstained from Mrs. Jennifer Wagner.
A motion approving volunteers following proper certifications and background checks was made by Wagner, seconded by Johnson, and unanimously approved.
The 2023 Senior Trip to Chicago on March 21-23, 2023 was approved.
A motion approving membership in the Ohio High School Athletic Association for 2023-2024, approving a one year agreement with Northwest Ohio Educational Service Center for 2023-2024, as well as approve membership in the OHI Charter Workers’ Compensation Group Rating Program was made by Kessler, seconded by Keiser, and unanimously approved.
A motion to adjourn was made at 7:04 p.m. by Keiser, seconded by Kessler, and unanimously approved.
Anna can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org