Make Academic Success Priority

Any spare money lying around in Ohio County Board of Education accounts could be put to good use by school principals eager to improve student performance. No doubt the principals and teachers at their schools have long wish-lists in that regard.

A new athletic coordinator for middle schools probably is not on many of those lists. Yet it is on the minds of some board of education members.

Board members have been discussing employment of a part-time coordinator to work with the county’s four middle schools. Some board members clearly support the idea – but the middle school principals do not.

Middle schools already have their own athletic directors, faculty members who do the additional work on a part-time basis.

Should board members approve the new countywide position, the person in it would work with existing middle school athletic directors, with high school sports officials and in promoting athletic programs in general, school Superintendent Dianna Vargo said.

“With all due respect to middle school principals and middle school athletic directors, why hasn’t this been done before?” asked board member Shane Mallett during a meeting this week. Vargo replied middle school principals simply do not believe the new position is necessary.

As Vargo pointed out, extracurricular activities are important to students. Were board members operating with unlimited funding, putting more into athletics – and other extracurricular activities – might be a good idea.

But that is not the real world. Public school funding is limited. Priorities have to be set. The top one obviously should be students’ academic performance.

Middle school principals and their teachers are not judged on how many students play football or whether the basketball team wins lots of games. They are – and should be – evaluated based on how well students are learning in the classroom.

Again, principals who don’t like the countywide athletic director idea no doubt have plenty of ideas for spending money to improve student performance. If additional funding is available, it should go for such purposes, not for a new middle school athletic director.