MT. VERNON — The District 80 Board of Education has created a special committee to explore possibly starting a Pee Wee basketball program for third and fourth grade students.
Developing a basketball program for fifth graders will also be investigated by the committee. However, a fifth grade team would be in a separate category than Pee Wee sports.
“(We want) to explore the possibilities of having a third, fourth and fifth grade program,” said Superintendent Mike Green. “You want to consider everything, so we just want to get as many facts as we can and let the facts kind of drive the decision.”
The District 80 Board formed the committee at its regular monthly meeting Wednesday night.
During the session, District 80 parent Wes Plummer made a presentation to the board, asking them to consider starting a Pee Wee basketball program.
Plummer is the recreation coordinator for the Mt. Vernon Parks and Recreation Department. Even so, he said he was not at the meeting representing the parks department, but was there as a parent.
Currently, third, fourth and fifth graders in District 80 do not have school basketball teams. Plummer said they are missing out on a great deal by not having them.
“This gives you something that you can inspire these kids (with),” Plummer said.
Early involvement in athletics brings many benefits to children, including teaching them hard work, perseverance and good sportsmanship, Plummer said.
Kids involved in organized sports are also less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol, he said.
“They learn a lot of life lessons,” Plummer said of being in sports. “The younger you start learning those things, the more equipped you are to handle successes and failures in life.”
District 80 is the only school district in Jefferson County that does not offer Pee Wee basketball for third and fourth graders, Plummer said.
Because of this, District 80 students are often less prepared than other county students when it comes time to try out for the sixth or seventh grade basketball team, Plummer said.
“By the time our kids are trying to join a team in sixth and seventh grade, some of the fundamentals are not there,” Plummer said. “They’re behind on skill development compared to county kids who have had years of practice.”
Prior to 2001, third through fifth graders in the district did have access to school-based basketball, said Assistant Superintendent Aletta Lawrence.
Those programs ended, however, when District 80 was restructured from a neighborhood school system to one made up of attendance centers, Lawrence said.
Pee Wee basketball programs are considered extra-curricular activities. The teams in this region typically play their games in the January and February time period, Plummer said.
In most cases, volunteers coach the teams and parents are responsible for their child’s transportation to team events, not the school district, Plummer said.
The district, however, may be involved in selecting the volunteer coaches, Plummer said.
Plummer will be part of the newly formed District 80 exploratory committee, along with Green, some school board members, and other district personnel.
The committee plans to return to a future school board meeting with a report on whether a Pee Wee program could be implemented next year.
Other District 80 Board actions Wednesday included:
n Hiring of Carrie Plummer as a Homebound Instructor for a first grade student.
n Hiring of John Smith as a part-time instructor for the after-school program.
n Approval of the resignation of Jean Jones as a head girls softball coach and an assistant girls basketball coach.
n Approval of the retirement of Julia Laur, a third grade teacher. She will retire at the end of this school year.