The Surry County Board of Education voted Monday night at its regular meeting to expand its soccer offerings with girls’ teams in its four middle schools. The meeting was held at Meadowview Middle School with the board also approving a new activity bus and bleacher renovations to Central Middle School.
County Athletic Director Tom Hemmings told the board previously, soccer at the middle school level had been offered through co-ed teams. He said the county athletic improvement committee had asked high school head soccer coaches to lead the programs in the middle schools and help coordinate with the sport on the little league level as well.
Hemmings explained the committee did this because it felt strongly about head coaches being advocates for the entire program and not a particular team. He said if the proposal was approved it would require additional coaching positions, additional officials and additional travel expenses (which average 30 cents per mile) would be incurred at the school level.
He suggested scheduling the girls teams games back to back with middle school boys teams matches. He said additional equipment and uniforms would also be needed to meet Federal Title Nine regulations and with approval Monday he hopes to have things ready by fall.
Hemmings told the board principals had informally polled their student bodies to get an idea of the number of girls interested in playing and they felt there would be sufficient interest. He estimated the cost of initial start-up funding for each team would be around $1,000 for uniforms and equipment and briefly discussed adding separate coaches for the girls only teams. Hemmings said the cost of extra officials is typically handled through ticket sales at the gate.
“I think it’s the right thing to do for children,” said Hemmings as he explained the additional team would give girls more opportunities to play. “Our administrators, coaches and athletic directors will make it work.”
Superintendent Dr. Travis Reeves told the board the county commissioners had approved $45,000, or roughly half the cost of a new activity bus to replace an aging bus in the district’s fleet. Transportation Director Rodney Hardy explained the older vehicle was safe just not dependable. He said the State Department of Instruction has recommendations on when to replace buses and Pilot Middle had one bus which had reached the 25 year mark.
Hardy explains the district already has a rotation system where older buses go from high school to the middle school level where less miles are traveled. He said the county purchased two buses last year which helped them catch up. Funds for the school system’s share of the cost will come from its general fund.
Plant Operations Director Robert Draughn told the board Central Middle’s old bleachers had been removed and the board accepted a low bid of $52,300 from Learning Environments Inc. to install two banks of bleachers at the school. He said the bleachers will be six rows, 74 feet in length. He said the bleachers would be automatically powered and would not have to be rolled out manually.
David Broyles may be reached at 3360719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.