Harlan County High School will be adding girls soccer to its list of athletic activities next year.
During Thursday’s regular meeting of the Harlan County Board of Education, funding was approved to cover start-up costs for uniforms and equipment.
This action follows a year after a similar program was initiated in the system’s middle schools. Superintendent Mike Howard and the board members noted the success of that sport, especially among girls, and that most likely the additional costs for a high school team would be minimal.
“It’s been a great success,” Howard said, “and it’s been a very good addition for our schools.”
Soccer will be a regular high school fall sport, so the district must now work quickly to staff the program and schedule what games can be arranged in a short time to create a legitimate schedule, Howard added.
Also, no firm decision has been made on where the team will play its home games. The high school’s athletic complex was originally designed to include a soccer field adjacent to the tennis courts and the baseball/softball complex. The district could also make use of many other athletic fields that remain in their property inventory spread around the county.
The high school football field was also designed to be used with soccer in mind, though scheduling would be an issue, Howard noted. Many high schools use their football fields for soccer games, he added.
“I wouldn’t expect we’d have a lot at home to begin with,” Howard commented. “We’ll probably take our licks for a little while until we get things going.”
Board chairman Gary Farmer recommended the board look at boosting the allotment given to the high school to cover program costs for related support functions like transportation. Given the number of programs and activities being added to the high school, like agriculture education, more funding would be needed, he said.
An additional benefit, Howard said, was the balance a girls soccer team will give the district with football when it comes to complying with the Title IX non-discrimination requirements as a participatory sport for girls in the fall.
Board member Wallace Napier, a retired principal who has consistently pushed for the addition of athletic programs since joining the board, praised the progress being made and reminded the staff once again of the need to add an archery program to the list of athletic activities available to all students.
The high school was also noted by the board for the recent success of its Future Problem Solving Team during an international competition held at the 2016 Future Problem Solving International Conference at Michigan State University in East Lansing.
The convention involves hundreds of teams from schools at all grade levels from around the world. The teams were divided into seven “global issues” areas, which were then further divided by age/grade levels.
Harlan County was one among 22 teams competing in the “community problem solving” area, which was further broken down into three different project categories: education, civic/cultural and human services projects, and environmental concerns and human services projects.
The Harlan County team finished third out of seven teams in its category focused on education projects. Theirs was entitled: F.U.T.U.R.E. Forwarding Us To Utilize Real-life Education. More information on the competition, including all results, can be found on the website of the Future Problem Solving Program International at www.fpspi.org.
One member of the team, Breanna Epperson, also entered in the individual competition and placed 15th of 25 competing in the Global Issues Problem Solving senior level.
Later in the meeting, Napier asked the board and school administrators to bring attention to the need to prepare alternatives in case there are interruptions to the school schedule due to road problems along KY 38 and other areas of the county.
Major breaks in the pavement along upper Clover Fork have the potential to greatly disrupt school schedules and student attendance, he said.
“I think we need to stay on top of that,” Napier said. “We need to push the state to get this work done.” Plenty of heavy equipment is sitting idle all around the county with lots of people looking for work and those could be put to productive use getting the main roads in better shape, he added. The board members and central office staff agreed to contact State Sen. Johnny Ray Turner and state Representatives Fitz Steele and Rick Nelson, as well as Congressman Hal Rogers about the problem.
In other action, the board:
• Discussed a problem with Kentucky Utilities lighting on the highway at the high school;
• Approved seeking a waiver for extension of whole grain-rich products in food service for 2016-17;
• Approved payment of indirect costs for food services;
• Declared a tilt kettle as surplus;
• Declares a Sears Project TV as surplus at Cawood Elementary School;
• Approved Cumberland River Comprehensive Care service agreement;
• Approved schools’ starting/ending times for 2016-17;
• Awarded bids for electrical supplies, custodial supplies, paint and paint supplies, sewer plants, grease traps and Port O’ Johns for the maintenance department;
• Approved an extension agreement with the United Mine Workers District 17 Local Union 2001;
• Held the first reading of annual Kentucky School Board Association policy updates;
• Approved the addition of a Title I Violation Complaint Procedure to the board’s policy manual;
• Held the first reading of a revised food service policy;
• Approved the banking services bid from Commercial Bank;
• Approved an education funding assurances agreement with the state Department of Education; and
• Tabled the annual superintendent evaluation.