With the topic gaining more exposure across the State of Iowa concerning private versus public schools in high school athletics, the Wayne Community School Board took a step forward, joining several other schools in the area. During the regular school board meeting held on April 22, Superintendent Dave Daughton asked the board to consider a resolution for the IAHSAA.
“As it happens nearly every year, a parochial school beats up on a smaller public school in an athletic event,” Daughton began. “It happened here locally during the basketball season and one of our local papers (The Times-Republican) wrote a really fine article about that, and it spread all across the state actually. There is a movement afoot to get some action from both athletic associations in the boys and girls unions to look at this in more detail.”
“This isn’t the first time this has happened and it won’t be the last,” Daughton continued. “Everytime it comes up there is an outcry and they stonewall the idea, but I don’t think that’s going to happen this time in this case. I think it has some momentum and there are people in the Board of Control that are interested in what they read in that article.”
“There is a resolution that was put together by several people including the Superintendent of Cardinal and he has gone even farther to look at equity pertaining to school districts that have a larger poverty number by free and reduced lunches,” he said.
“What are you going to do about it?” asked Board President Bill Homann.
“We are going to talk to the Board of Control at the IAHSAA,” answered Daughton. “Missouri uses a multiplier system so private schools with lower enrollment would have a multiplier used. Grandview Christian has roughly 100 kids and they don’t have a JV program, but they just won the Class 1A State Championship in basketball. So if they have 100 kids, and if they use a multiplier then they would move up to Class 2A.”
“Don Bosco won the championship in Class 1A wrestling and very often at the top and they limit their enrollment,” Daughton continued.
“That’s the issue that even more than the recruiting angle, they can control their enrollment numbers,” said board member Kevin Comer.
“What’s happening is school boards are bringing this (resolution) up saying, look at this please,” said Daughton. “Please look at this and if you haven’t read Jen’s article, find it and read it.”
“Is there any argument back about open-enrollment?” asked board member Dan Carpenter.
“There are rules with open-enrollment and they are on an individual case basis,” said Daughton. “When you look at this data, they have a built-in advantage.”
“I totally agree, I just wondered if there were opposing arguments,” said Carpenter.
“Why not put all private schools in one class where Don Bosco plays Dowling?” said Comer.
“In some states they have enough they can do that, but I don’t think in Iowa they felt there were enough,” said Daughton. “This resolution is asking them to begin the process for modifications in how schools are classified and to level the playing field. This doesn’t state we know what the change should be, but instead saying we want you to start looking at this and do something."
“You know I’m an old coach and every year when I look at the brackets for the state volleyball tournament, state basketball tournaments or eight-man football brackets, I see three out of the eight, four out of the eight, six out of the eight that are all private schools,” said Daughton. “I recommend that we as a board approve this resolution and it’s more being part of it and lending our voice to it.”
“How does this impact our overall mission as a school and the quality of education we provide?” asked Homann.
“I don’t think it impacts the quality of education we provide, but athletics is a part of the overall school experience,” answered Daughton. “When we are terrible in athletics, people think we have a bad school. When we are good in athletics, people think we have a good school.”
“As far as private schools go, there is absolutely a difference and I am all for looking at doing something different to make it more competitive,” said Comer.
“I just don’t know where it stops,” said Homann. “What’s the difference between a level playing field and being equal?”
“There aren’t built-in disadvantages,” said Daughton. “I believe this to be something that we should support, but you are the ones to vote on it. If you don’t want to approve that is perfectly fine, it’s not us taking any action other than lending our support.”
“What’s the chances we get something back on this we don’t like?” asked Homann.
“I think none,” answered Daughton.
“I disagree,” said Homann. “What if I don’t like the classification now for our school size? What’s my opportunity as a school board president to do something about that?”
“You can express your opinions, but there would be a difference with 100 school boards adopting a resolution saying we feel this is necessary,” said Daughton. “I believe in this and support it whole-heartedly, but the board needs to make that decision.”
“I would entertain a motion,” said Homann.
“I will make the motion to adopt this resolution,” said board member Kristina Pollock.
Board members Carpenter, Bill Byrns and Comer all voted in favor with Pollock with Homann voting nay on the motion.
The next regular board meeting for the Wayne Community School Board will be held on Monday, May 20 at 5:30 p.m.