A new archery program may be coming to California's middle and high schools soon.
The proposed archery program and administrative reports at board meetings were two highlights from the October California R-I School District Board of Education meeting held Oct. 19 in the California High School media center.
The proposed archery program dominated the new business portion of the meeting. Teachers Jennifer Porter and Kayla Stewart, and high school Principal Jeff West, presented information about archery programs in schools, along with a survey completed by high school students.
According to the survey, found on the district's BoardDocs portal, 69 percent of the 58 surveyed students were interested in an archery program. More than 41 percent of the students were juniors and seniors.
Stewart said archery might interest students who aren't invovlved in other programs offered at the schools. Archery is already taught in physical education classes at middle and high school levels, enabling the program to be recognized by the National Archery in Schools Program (NASP). She said NASP requires archery to also be taught in physical education courses for the program to be recognized.
"When we do (archery) in PE class, there's a lot of kids that maybe don't like PE, but as soon as we do something like this their attitude is completely changed," she said.
There's always been interest in the community for an archery program, Porter said. She said Stewart stoked interest in starting an archery program after she moved to the community.
"Kayla reached out to me in March-April," she said. "Where she came from, she coached archery and just kind of talked to me about 'Could we get something going here?'"
Stewart said she is interested in coaching at the high school level. The school would have to find an addtional coach, whom the Missouri Department of Conservation would train.
Porter said the district has the equipment, facilities and interest needed to start a program. She identified two locations for practices: the middle school gymnasium, which she said isn't used after school in January and February, and the high school courtyard.
Stewart said the courtyard should be large enough for practices. She said they need approximately 33 feet for the first shooting range (from 10 meters), and approximately 49 feet for a second shooting range (from 15 meters).
Porter said participants would need two to three hours of practice per week.
Although Porter and Stewart wished to have the club officially sponsored by the district, Superintendent Daniel Williams suggested keeping the club separate initially because of financial and other issues.
"We don't have a very optimistic financial outlook for the next year or two as a district, so I worry about adding an additional expense to the district knowing we're already in a spot where we could be deficit-spending and are, this year, currently," he said. "I think my focus and my recommendation is that we probably focus on maintaining the programs that exist rather than taking on an additional expense."
Williams explained the district would be required to pay for coaches, supplies and transportation if it became a student activity sponsored by the district. He also voiced concerns over fundraising and control.
"I think remaining independent of the school, initially at least, is a good thing where I look at one of the fundraising ideas is a gun auction, which we as a school district cannot be a part of, so that opens up latitude where have no control, no say, really don't want to be a part of making decisions for monies that we don't control," he added. "Gives you better latitude as your own private group as to what you do to raise your funds."
Stewart said Russellville developed its program separately before the district sponsored it. Williams said Tipton's program was developed similarly to Russellville's. Closer to home, board President Derek VanLoo said the middle school softball program was originally created as a separate activity before the school sponsored it.
The archery program will not be a school-sponsored activity at this time, but board members said students could use district equipment and facilities for archery.
In other action, the board considered streamlining presentations of administrative reports.
Williams said he value administrator and visitor's time and could use it better. He said administrators attend many events, and that if board meetings ran more smoothly, they wouldn't be there as late.
Despite concerns about how late meetings run, Williams suggested board members set aside time during meetings to hear presentations about programs and individual departments.
He said a previous district he worked at rotated presentations between building administrators monthly. The board determined that administrators will not make monthly presentations, but would continue to provide written reports and answer questions at the meetings.
While Williams and others felt the administrator reports wasted time, Paul Bloch, a board member, disagreed.
"I get a lot out of the reports from the principals, and I usually ask questions," he said.
Bloch suggested members could simply ask questions before the meeting to save some time.
"Susie (Gorrell, board secretary) will tell you if I have questions about checks or things like that I ask her before the meeting to get it out of the way. We could cut some of our time out that way," he said. "And, yes, we do have to make (building administrators) come in. But this is kind of important what we do here. And I think they all understand that; They might not want to come in, but I think they need to."
Bloch said the board has become increasingly isolated from administrators, faculty and staff. He said there used to be groups present at every meeting.
VanLoo said he also feels the disconnect.
"I don't have that daily interaction that comes home to me to let me know about what's going on in the school," VanLoo said. "So without communicating directly with one of you or Mr. Williams or Susie, I feel that disconnect as well."
The board agreed during future meetings to receive program highlights and administrative reports before new business. Building administrator reports, athletic director reports, and special program director reports will all be open for discussion, while assistant superintendent and superintendent reports will remain separate. Williams said building administrators will still attend all board meetings.
West presented a report about the Jobs for American Graduates (JAG) program at the high school. Jordan Bruns, a high school student who won the JAG essay contest, will attend an essay reception Tuesday at the Governor's Mansion in Jefferson City.
In other action:
- The board approved the consent agenda, consisting of the September meeting minutes, bills, payroll and substitute teacher list.
- High school graduation was set for 2 p.m. May 21, 2023. The last day for seniors is yet to be determined.
- School bus routes, which must be approved by the board each October and June, were approved for 2022-23.
- The board discussed alterations to the backstop at the high school baseball/softball field. Due to concerns about foul balls leaving the field, including an incident that injured a staff member earlier this fall at the collection gate, the board discussed two options for extending netting. One option would extend the netting straight up, while a second option extends the netting at a 20-degree angle and would require support braces. The board agreed on the second option.
The California R-I School District Board of Education will meet next at 6 p.m. Nov. 16 in the CHS media center.