Team preparing strategic plan based on activities surveyBlue Jay pride is strong at Jamestown High School, but athletes there need more support and resources to achieve the best results, according to a recent survey of people involved with the school. Now a panel of community members is preparing a plan to provide those resources and support.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Blue Jay pride is strong at Jamestown High School, but athletes there need more support and resources to achieve the best results, according to a recent survey of people involved with the school.
Now a panel of community members is preparing a plan to provide those resources and support.
On Dec. 19, the Jamestown Public School Board appointed 14 community members to the Strategic Plan Action Team to look at implementing changes to co- and extra-curricular activities.
SPAT will look at the implementation of changes based on the 101-page report completed by the Athletic and Co-Curricular Activity Committee. The rough information was close to 1,500 pages worth of data.
Both groups consist or consisted of volunteers from the community.
The impetus for the final product of the ACAC’s 101-page report was a survey taken by parents, current middle school and high school students, past students and coaches and program directors. In total, 267 parents and 485 current high school students answered the survey.
The report goes into meticulous detail for each group surveyed. It identifies models for success and solutions for improvement.
The report shows that different groups responded differently to the same questions.
For example: Parents were slightly more critical of coaches and program directors than current high school students. On a scale of 1-5, parents rated coaches and directors a 3.08, while current students rated them 3.84.
However, students were more critical of communication than parents with an average student score of 2.79 compared to a parent score of 3.13.
“… The most alarming item of concern is related to communication,” the report says about the activity director’s willingness to listen, approachability, ability to handle issues effectively, fairness and timely response to issues. Five of the items in this category were specifically related to the athletic director and the other two were related to coach/director.
“The two coach questions actually increased this average (they were both higher averages than the highest athletic director question) thus it appears as though the low communication score is associated with discontentment related to the athletic director.”
Jim Roaldson serves as the activity director for Jamestown High School, and his title also encompasses athletics. Later the report notes that the opinions about Roaldson are coming from a limited group.
“Communication with the AD is quite low but again these responses only came from people who had communicated with the AD and many responses were N/A on the survey,” the report read. “The people who have not communicated with the AD did not report and there is no reason to believe they are at all dissatisfied with the AD (thus the numbers most likely would increase if the questions were framed in a manner that they were encouraged to answer them even if they have not communicated with the AD).”
Coaches surveyed also had positive remarks for Roaldson. Some concerns were expressed by the coaches, but they suggested Roaldson has a heavy workload.
Roaldson declined to comment on this part of the report.
Speed and weight training
Another item raised throughout the report was the need for improved weight-training equipment, as well as the need for a full-time strength/agility coach.
“Largest concern from coaches was the lack of equipment, facilities and access to facilities in order to develop their activity,” the report read. “Comments emphasized the lack of access and equipment for strength training, lack of adequate coaches on staff and lack of hiring qualified coaching staff.”
John Splonskowski, who served as guidance counselor with Jamestown Public Schools for 32 years before retiring, was asked by the School Board to contribute a report separate from the ACAC study.
His report was on former and current student views and impressions of the status of high school activities at the high school as well.
Splonskowski’s findings echo the needs addressed in the survey in terms of speed and weight training.
“It was felt that most athletic programs could be improved and become more competitive if the school had a speed and strength training program and that supervised and directed by an individual specifically trained and certified in this area,” Splonskowski wrote.
Roaldson and Superintendent Bob Toso agreed that a speed and strength coach is a vital part of building a more successful program.
“If our teams are going to be competitive, one of the things we need to take a look at doing is improving the athleticism of our athletes,” Roaldson said.
One former ACAC member said training high school athletes is commonplace now for high schools in Jamestown’s conference.
“We need to keep up with the times, so to speak, and as you see the evolution of sport, that just the natural progression and having the lack of a true individual leader in that area,” said Cory Anderson, an ACAC member who was active during the survey and report.
But finding the money will be a challenge for a district that is looking at deficit spending for 2012, Toso said.
“What you always have to do in a situation like that is prioritize,” he said. “Is that a bigger need than something else? We’re going to have to do some belt tightening, but where is that belt tightening going to be?”
A team effort
The report also said that the high school coaches and co-curricular activity directors should become more involved in the middle school programs to better prepare students for high school.
Toso said that’s what all coaches are expected to be doing.
“That is one key for success, and then you get consistency throughout the program,” he said.
Anderson said he would like to see student athletes master a particular skill at a certain level so high school coaches can teach more complexities — instead of fundamentals.
“I think it’s important for them (high school head coaches) to be involved in the structure of what happens for each program,” Anderson said.
Blue Jay pride
One positive item that came through in the survey was the sense of pride students feel in being Blue Jays.
“There is a feeling that JHS does not have a reputation of being good at most extracurricular activities. Regardless, most agree or strongly agree they have a strong sense of pride in being a Blue Jay,” the report read.
However, the report also shows the number of current students who were involved in middle school athletics but declined further involvement in high school.
Track and field had the largest number of students who decided not to continue the sport in high school with 124, basketball was right behind track with 120 students not playing in high school and football rounds out the top three with 69 students not continuing. No information was available in the report on how many stuck with those sports.
The students surveyed who quit a sport or activity gave the following reasons:
* 154 said they lost interest.
* 97 cited time conflicts/choosing between sports/too busy.
* 30 said it was due to coaches/favorites/politics.
* 26 said they were not good at the sports they quit.
“… Have a focus group with the middle school coaches in these areas to see if they are losing talented kids and to see what they are doing to try and retain them for the high school coaches,” the report read.
Roaldson said the more students enjoy the sport, the more likely they will stay with it.
“That eighth-grade year to the ninth-grade year is a big transition period, not only in our local community but other communities as well,” he said.
One transition during that time period is the shift from participation to competitiveness.
The need for that shift in all programs was brought up in the report.
“One reason why the scores are lower is because they are not being pushed to excel, coaches are playing everyone equal, etc.,” the report read.
Anderson said it could as simple as students “putting all their eggs in one basket.”
His personal opinion he said was: “Our student athletes are commodities and we may not have as many of them as some of the schools in the state division we compete in. So we need those to go as far as we can.”
The next level
ACAC presented 14 months’ worth of findings to the School Board in its detailed report in November.
The ACAC originally formed and met in October 2010 with hopes to improve athletic programs. Since then music and drama programs were added to study.
ACAC members Terry Anderson, Jon Hegerle and Darin Peterson also joined SPAT to help get members on that board up to speed with the extensive report.
“This is a pretty important cog to what we’re trying to do,” Peterson said. “Basically all three of us volunteer, aid and assist the next step based on our knowledge of the past year.”
SPAT held its first meeting on Jan. 4 and Peterson is optimistic the group will be finished with a strategic plan by the end of February.
“None of the recommendations came from personal opinions or personal feelings,” he said. “… If it didn’t come from two or three different places it was not put in as a recommendation.”
Toso said it’s going to be hard to make changes while the district faces deficit spending.
“The problem is going to come when administration and the School Board work to implement the strategic plan,” he said.
Even when SPAT finishes what the ACAC started, there is a still a long road ahead while implementing changes.
“This isn’t going to be an easy fix. I hope no one thinks next year we’ll have the strategic plan in place and we’ll start winning state championships at an alarming rate,” Toso said.
Even after changes are implemented, Anderson said it could take years to properly gauge the results.
“It’s kind of like a recruiting class — we’re going to have to wait and see how we did in five years,” he said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org