Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, July 26, 1999
Board considers athletic issues, disappointed with joint school/city meetings
By Luis Puga
Lester Prairie School's athletic director Bob Kuehl brought a number of items before the school board on Monday.
Kuehl began by asking the board to consider allowing the varsity baseball team to attend spring training camps.
Essentially, the teams would head south to a warmer climate for some early training. Kuehl pointed out that some of the school's bigger competitors take advantage of such trips.
He added that such a trip could be funded by community donations through fundraisers.
However, the board felt that hitting the community up for donations was asking too much.
Listing other organizations, such as the After Prom Committee and others, that depend on community donations, some board members felt that asking for additional donations might alienate the community.
The board also felt that providing a trip for only the varsity baseball team could create problems, since Kuehl is the athletic director, not just a baseball coach.
In the end, the board said it would consider the proposal, but Board Member Murl Kletscher added that if the 15-16 boys really wanted the trip, they might consider funding it themselves.
The next item Kuehl brought before the board concerned Junior Olympic volley ball and AAU basketball, two extra-curricular activities available to students. These programs are not part of the school's athletic department.
Kuehl asked the board to consider ending the availability of the school facilities to those two school organizations.
He felt such a measure could stem the tide of students joining those teams. This would leave school teams with an adequate number of players.
Kuehl said that 32 girls signed up for junior varsity softball , but then went on to join volleyball and basketball outside of the school. With only 16 girls, the school did not have a team for that year.
Kuehl added that this is a problem because the school paid for coaches and a program that were not used, thus wasting tax money. On top of that, the additional teams were adding wear and tear to the equipment of the school's facilities.
The board felt that such a measure would alienate the parents of students who are in the two programs. Board Member Chester Hoernemann said one parent told him his family would go to another town if AAU basketball was cancelled.
Board Member Kyllo added that the town has expressed a desire for a community center, and, until such a center is built, the school acts as such a center. The board also pointed out that the school cannot stop students from joining these organizations.
Chairperson Gene Starke said he received a number of calls concerning this issue, and he preferred that Kuehl talk to the parents of the student athletes in the two organizations. He added that it was important to get a commitment out of children who sign up for programs, so the resources don't go to waste.
He also said the volleyball program is almost 10 years old, and he could not foresee the board restricting that organization from using the school's facility.
Kuehl received approval to hire additional fall coaches: one for seventh grade volleyball and one for ninth grade football. However, Kuehl's request for the board to consider raising the pay of referees, timekeepers, and scorekeepers at high school games was tabled for further consideration.
Joint meetings with city council
The board's disappointment with the joint meetings between the school and city council was apparent as they made preparations for the next joint meeting in August.
Starke asked, "Why should we prepare when they are not prepared?" He felt the city was not ready for the last meeting. Starke added, referring to the school's future planning, "Before we can do anything, they have to annex land into the city. Until they do that, we can't do anything as a school district."
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