FORT VALLEY -- As they tackle middle school athletic issues and determine next year’s school calendar, Peach County administrators are seeking input from the community.
There are several issues facing middle school sports -- the most recent is the league’s vote against a merger of Byron and Fort Valley football teams, meaning the two sports programs will go back to playing as separate teams next year -- for now, Peach County Athletic Director Chad Campbell said Tuesday during a school board work session.
The teams combined last year when the Bibb County league, which Fort Valley was part of, decided to play only within its school district, leaving Fort Valley without opponents. Central Georgia Middle School Athletic League granted permission for sports teams from the two schools to combine for the school year, and for the past year both schools have played as the Byron Middle School Eagles.
This month, the CGMSA granted permission for Fort Valley to become part of the league, meaning the two programs could separate again. But, as funding and the number of student participants continues to be an issue, district officials asked that the two football teams continue to play as one.
That merger was rejected by an 11-5 vote of the 16 schools, a little less than 80 percent of the vote which was needed for approval. Those who voted no questioned why the district should merge its football program and not the other teams, Campbell said.
Campbell is confident that the league would approve the merger if all sports teams were combined, he said.
Now, Campbell is seeking community input to determine whether to request that all middle school sports be combined or leave Fort Valley and Byron as separate programs. A committee will be formed to discuss that issue, as well as other problems plaguing middle school sports. Those problems include a lack of funds, student participants and certified coaches. There are empty coaching positions for some sports because no one is qualified, Campbell said.
“I recommend that we include some community members in Byron and Fort Valley, and get together and address these concerns,” he said.
Administrators also are asking for input on whether to start school in August or September of next school year.
The district recently sent out a survey to parents, teachers, students and community members, and more than 60 percent said they wanted to start after Labor Day. The rest preferred to begin school in August.
Now that the two calendars with both start dates have been drafted, school officials are asking residents to review those calendars and vote again. Students can either start on Sept. 3 with the last day being May 30, or they can start on Aug. 12 with the last day being May 23. If they start in August, Christmas break will begin Dec. 18 and Dec. 23 if they begin in September.
The two calendars will be posted on the district website at www.peachschools.org.
“We’re just trying to get as much stakeholder input as possible,” Superintendent Joe Ann Denning said.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.