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Wood BOE meeting continues during power outage

Board requests feasibility study on middle school soccer programs

Wood County Board of Education members Ron Tice, left, Justin Raber, center left, Wood County Schools Superintendent Will Hosaflook, center right, and board President Rick Olcott, right, use flashlights and phones Tuesday to read documents during a board meeting after power issues knocked out lights for a section of Parkersburg. (Photo by Michael Erb)

PARKERSBURG — The Wood County Board of Education’s first meeting of 2019 was darker than expected Tuesday evening after a blown transformer knocked out power for a section of Parkersburg.

About 20 minutes into Tuesday’s meeting at the Wood County Schools Central Office at 13th and Plum streets in Parkersburg, lights began to flicker and then went out.

Officials ended up shutting off power to the building, as the meeting room’s microphones and other systems were still active. Administrators said the building was still receiving power, but not enough. Board members and staff used flashlights and phones to keep the meeting going.

“Thank you everyone for enduring the darkness tonight,” said board President Rick Olcott. “We will see the light, hopefully, next meeting.”

Prior to the outage, the board held a discussion of middle school soccer at the request of board member Debbie Hendershot.

Wood County Board of Education member Debbie Hendershot speaks prior to a power outage Tuesday that knocked out lights for the meeting. Hendershot asked the board to again take up the issue of making soccer a middle school sport, and board members requested a feasibility study be presented at a later meeting. (Photo by Michael Erb)

“I’ve brought it before the board asking the board to please consider middle school soccer for the kids,” she said. “Anything we can do to help the kids, that’s what we’re here for, to help the kids, get the kids off the street and give them positive things to do.”

In September, Jackson Middle School student Rohan Malik-Hamirani requested the board make soccer a sports at the middle school level. Malik-Hamirani, who is student council president at his school, said he’d received schoolwide support for the idea and believed it would benefit high-school level soccer teams by better preparing upcoming players.

Since then, there has been little public discussion.

Superintendent Will Hosaflook presented a report to the board from Bill Vincent, middle school athletic director, which outlined the “pros and cons” of creating a middle school soccer program. Vincent had been directed to look at the request from September, talk to middle school principals and report back to the board.

“The biggest thing we need to find out, I believe, is the feasibility, the feasibility of supporting a sport that has a club background,” Hosaflook said. “We need to crunch the budgets, we need to look at middle school budgets and see how much money is coming in.”

Hosaflook said among the concerns expressed by principals was whether the introduction of new school sports would signal the end of existing sports due to money and participation. Hosaflook said the report indicated there has been a three-year decline in revenue for existing programs.

“I just think we need to know how much this is going to cost,” he said.

Vincent’s report, which was not distributed during the meeting, did not satisfy some of the board members.

“I don’t like excuses. I don’t like concerns. I want to know how we are going to do it, if it is an item that we can take action on,” said board member Justin Raber.

Raber said the report also did not include any numbers on cost or the number of students expressing interest in participation.

“We’re student driven,” Olcott said. “There’s a lot of ‘can’t do’s’ in the document.”

Several board members asked for a feasibility study as well as participation and budget numbers on existing middle school sports.

The board needs “a feasibility study, letting us know the interests and the costs, so we can make a decision,” said board member Rick Tennant.

Scott Limer, soccer travel coach and Parkersburg club president for West Central Soccer Association, spoke to the board during public comment, saying many of the initial concerns voiced could be addressed if the district partnered with an existing agency such as WCSA.

“I do think it is possible if we get committed to establishing a middle school soccer league here,” he said.

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