Oklahoma school districts are grappling with an important side issue as a threatened teacher walkout looms on April 2. Many are prepared to suspend operations in support of the teachers. But what are they to do about continuing spring sports and other extracurricular activities?
Many administrators are calling for a complete shutdown of all activities. But nobody wants to turn their backs on the athletes.
“They feel for their kids,” one administrator said, “but they also know in their hearts that the only way this will work is with a total shutdown.”
The Oklahoma Education Association is calling for the April 2 walkout if its demands for a $10,000 teacher raise over three years and additional City, community leaders to rally for teachers. Page A11
funding for school support personnel are not met. The total three-year bill would amount to about $1.75 billion.
OEA president Alicia Priest is urging every board to decide “what's right for its teachers, students and district.”
So far, however, the issue on spring sports has proven thorny. Neither Tulsa Public Schools nor many surrounding districts have decided.
Bartlesville, Broken Arrow, Claremore, Coweta, Glenpool, Owasso, Sapulpa, Skiatook and Union voted Monday to support the teachers by authorizing their respective superintendents to close school in the event of a walkout. Jenks and TPS are expected to decide Thursday.
Few have solved the athletic issue. Glenpool was an exception. Following lengthy discussion in a 3½hour meeting, the Glenpool board voted unanimously to shut down spring activities in the event of a walkout.
The “difficult decision,” Glenpool athletic director Jason Culler said, “was based on keeping solidarity among our teachers, staff and district. (Board members) felt that if we were to allow participation outside of the contractual day, it might be viewed as a division within our district and we didn't want to be perceived that way by anyone — inside or outside of the district.”
Broken Arrow athletic director Ken Ellett said the Tigers are “waiting for a little more direction from the (Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association).”
But the OSSAA. The state's governing body of interscholastic competition is trying to determine exactly what percentage of its 481 member schools are going to allow spring participation and those who aren't.
“We've heard from both sides and it's an issue we've certainly discussed,” associate director Mike Whaley said. “But until we have a more defined position, it's too early to have a definitive plan.”
Before the OSSAA are such issues as what happens to a team forced to miss district games in the sports of baseball or soccer. Would those teams have to forfeit, and how would the forfeits affect their playoff status?
And there is the potential for rescheduling if the walkout drags on and large numbers of schools are unable to participate in a scheduled activity.
It is one thing for the OSSAA to move around a few baseball games and soccer matches. Those can be played almost anywhere. It's another entirely to postpone a regional or state golf tournament, scheduled for months at a course or country club that likely will have difficulty finding alternate dates.
One of the first events likely to be affected is the state speech and debate tournament, April 5-7 at the University of Oklahoma.
Because of the extensive space required for such a mammoth event, the OSSAA would be loath to postpone and try to reschedule.
Edison's Jacob Foreman battles for a header while playing against Sand Springs at Memorial High School on Tuesday.