The McPherson USD 418 Board of Education approved the addition of seventh-grade sports for the 2012-2014 school year during its regular meeting Monday.
Seventh graders will now have the option to participate in football, volleyball, basketball and cross country. Eighth-grade cross country was also added.
“I’m actually very excited about the opportunity,” Anne Kirchner, mother of a current sixth- and eighth-grader, said. “From a parent perspective, it will simplify our family schedule. We spend a lot of weekends and after hours transporting them and money engaging them in outside leagues.”
Kirchner said using the school system will allow more students to participate and expose them to more activities they may later enjoy.
Jody Stout, parent of a son who will be sixth-grader next year, said she thinks the board decision was a good one.
“I think it's going to be good for the kids to pull together as a team,” she said. “The sooner they pull together, the sooner they can learn to become a team.”
Discussion regarding the topic has been tossed around throughout the year, as scheduling has become more difficult for activities.
Other schools in the McPherson Middle School consortium — Hays, Great Bend and two Salina schools — already have made the switch. This left few options for filling McPherson’s eighth-grade schedules because the other districts said they would not schedule McPherson match ups unless absolutely necessary because it did not have seventh-grade sports.
These schools added these sports because, like McPherson, they were denied admittance into the Pioneer League and were faced with a similar problem. McPherson previously voted to only add the sports if they gained admittance into the Pioneer League, but recently accepted the decision due to scheduling problems.
“I’m excited for it,” Jacque Gehrt, an eighth-grade athletics coach, said. “I think it will be a good thing.”
Gehrt said the addition will allow new opportunities for some seventh-graders who aren’t able to participate in traveling teams, help them get a head start and encourage school involvement.
vDuring a past board meeting, Superintendent Randy Watson said the change will put additional pressure on facility use, forcing some athletic groups to practice at unusual times. Gehrt said the district would be capable of working this out.
The addition of seventh-grade sports will include about $21,000 in coaching salaries and more than $11,000 in equipment needs.