School district mulls soccer team

By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Young Portales soccer players may have dreams of playing for the United States national team, but for now they’d settle for playing on a high school team in Portales.

More than 30 parents and children attended the Portales School Board meeting Monday evening requesting that school officials explore the possibility of adding a high school soccer program.

Traci Sievers and other concerned parents gave school board members reasons to have a soccer program. The main reason was to give Portales High School students the option to play. Sievers said a benefit to the high school would be not losing students to Clovis Municipal Schools. Clovis High School has boys and girls varsity and junior varsity teams. Therefore, PHS would not lose money it receives for each student from the New Mexico Department of Education.

Dr. Joel Sievers, M.D., with Eastern Medical Associates in Portales, said another benefit would be maintaining good health of the students who play.

Travis McCorkle, Eastern New Mexico University Zias soccer coach, and ENMU men’s coach Carlos Elizondo spoke in favor of a soccer program because of the increase in health fitness and possible coaches available from ENMU that Portales could hire.

In a May PNT article, Melvin Nusser, Portales High School principal, said he’s all for starting new programs for the high school, but with a tight budget there would have to be cuts in other programs or personnel to start a soccer program.

In the same story, Don Gomez, PHS athletic director, said there’s another catch — if Portales High School officials were to implement a soccer program for the girls, they would have to begin a soccer program for the boys, and vice versa, according to New Mexico Activities Association rules.

The story stated Gomez said the PHS athletic program is financially strapped and has been operating on the same budget for several years.

In the story, Nusser pointed out that there is something else to consider when starting a soccer program. He said the opponents in the district would not be the same as they are in basketball or volleyball. Lovington does not have a boys or girls soccer team. The two teams for girls soccer in District 4 are Ruidoso and Socorro. For the boys District 4, the teams are the New Mexico Military Institute, Hatch Valley, Ruidoso and Socorro. More than likely that means the Portales players would have to travel to those schools for games, increasing the travel budget.

Rod Savage, school board president, directed Randy Fowler, superintendent of schools, to get together with Traci Sievers and other concerned parents to talk about the finances and a timetable for the program. Traci Sievers said the goal is to have a soccer program for the 2007-08 school year.

In other business, Joan Brown informed board members that there will be an application submitted for a charter school program to work with the school district.

Brown said this would give Portales students the option to stay in Portales and attend smaller school settings instead of traveling to Lincoln-Jackson Academy Arts in Clovis, Dora, Elida or Floyd for the same small-class sizes. Lincoln-Jackson Academy is a “magnet” school that is a district school with a specialty focus. This curricula may include intense focus, delivery and instructional approaches in areas such as math, the arts, technology and science.

Brown said the Horace Mann charter school would have children from first to 12th grades, and class sizes would be kept to 25 students. Brown said the application would be in by June 24, and school board members have until Aug. 24 to approve or deny the application.

The school district would lose funding that pays the school district for each student. Brown said some of the loss would be offset by paying the school district for helping the charter school with handling administrative and budgetary duties.