October 23, 2008

School Board Adds Baseball Program for Spring 2010

While there are no immediate plans to add peanuts and cracker jacks, two staples of Americaís pastime, to the concession stand menu, the Scotland County R-I District will be adding a baseball program next year.

The SCR-I School Board voted 4-2 to institute a varsity baseball team beginning in the spring of 2010.

Board members Matt McKee, Gary Miller, Bill Cottrell and Stacy Alexander voted for the motion with members George Koontz and Stacy Westhoff casting the dissenting votes. Member Paul Campbell was absent from the October 9th board meeting.

ďIím not opposed to adding a baseball program, I just felt there were several other things I would have liked to have seen done before we made this move,Ē said Koontz, the board president.

The program had been under consideration for at least the past six years. At the August 2005 meeting of the board, booster Chris Harris had presented a proposal that would have offered public funding of up to $3,500 for each of the first five years of the baseball program if the district added the sport.

Last year the district reconsidered adding the sport, but the issue never came to a vote as the board indicated it wished to focus on boosting the existing extra-curricular programs.

Now that the program has been added, the school administration will turn its attention to preparing the facilities, equipping the squads, finding a coach and generating a schedule of play.

Over the years when this project had been considered, the district had generated some preliminary cost estimates. Superintendent Dave Shalley stated those numbers will need to be updated as the district builds its baseball budget, providing uniforms, transportation costs and salary for the coaching staff.

The district has already undertaken a project to revamp the high school softball field, but Shalley noted the stadium may require additional bleachers as well as possible lighting upgrades to facilitate the added sport. Another field concern will be the creation of a pitching mound, and the ramifications that has on dual use of the field for both baseball and softball, since the later does not require a mound.

SCR-I joins fellow Tri-Rivers Conference schools Knox County, Milan, Putnam County, North Shelby and Schuyler County, which already offer baseball. Brookfield and Clark County are the lone remaining league schools without baseball. The conference teams will offer SCR-I some immediate scheduling options, but the 2010 schedule may be a bit abbreviated for non-league games. Traditionally schools build athletic schedules at least two years in advance, meaning it may be too late for SCR-I to be added to many schoolsí schedules in time for play next spring.

Other future board considerations could include a dual sport policy for athletes. In the last few years, SCR-I has allowed students to participate in more than one activity scheduled during the same season.

ďI suspect we will look at some type of policy that would allow the kids to participate in more than one spring sport,Ē said Shalley, ďpossibly with them declaring a primary sport, which they would attend if there were scheduled events for both activities on the same day.Ē

The superintendent indicated a search will begin soon to fill the baseball coaching staff.

ďWe would like to find a coach that will be on our staff, but the district does have the option to go outside the faculty to hire a baseball coach if the need arises,Ē Shalley said.

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