Board approves soccer program

By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer

Answering the cries of several local soccer moms and dads, the Portales Municipal Schools Board of Education unanimously approved the development of a boys and girls soccer program at their regular meeting Monday night.

But with the program set to start in the 2007-2008 school year, school officials say they want it to stick this time.

Portales schools have had a soccer program in the past, but according to the board, soccer fizzled because of a lack of interest, and poor management.

“Our concern is that we’ve had soccer started more than once in the past, and it’s not been successful,” Portales Schools Superintendent Randy Fowler said. “Basically we’ve ended up having to shut the program down. We just don’t want to start it again, if we’re not going to be able to finish, and we want to make sure that we have everything in place, and we feel like we do.”

The board of education, in conjunction with a group of parents who proposed re-starting the soccer program last summer, conducted research including school surveys and meetings with parents, and the board says the results show significant interest among students and the community.

“We’ve been talking with this group that brought this proposal since June trying to make sure that the interest was there,” Fowler said.

Fowler also announced that the school does not have any teaching positions open at the current time, so coaches will likely need to be culled from the current teaching staff.

Some of the goals that must be met before kids can start taking penalty kicks include collecting funds for the program, finding coaches, getting a suitable field ready, arranging transportation, and notifying the New Mexico Activities Association.

“There’s a lot of things that revolve around (starting the program),” Fowler said. “We want to make sure that this wasn’t just jumped into without really thinking through it, and we feel like we have done that.”
Fowler estimated the cost of starting the program to be around $40,000.

“We think we can make it work,” Fowler said. “But we’re going to have to look at different funding sources.”

Katie Hammack, the mother of two school-aged girls who both play soccer, is among many Portales parents who’ve been pushing for a school sponsored soccer program. Hammack and her girls recently moved into the area, and found that there was no soccer available beyond youth soccer leagues.

“It’s really exciting for the kids who have been working since they were little bitty to be able to continue on (playing soccer), where they didn’t have the option before,” Hammack said. “They kind of do (have the option of playing soccer) now, and can participate in school which helps a bunch.”

Hammack also believes the proposed soccer program will benefit Portales student-athletes in the classroom.

“(The kids) have to have a certain G.P.A to even participate,” Hammack said. “So a lot of them show dedication, and because of the discipline they get in sports.”

As for finding appropriate funding and getting started, Fowler wants everyone to know that Portales Ram soccer is right around the corner.

“We’re involved, and we’re moving ahead.”

In other business at Monday’s meeting the board:

• Approved an agreement between the State of New Mexico Higher Education Department, New Mexico GEAR UP, Portales Junior High and Portales Municipal School District.

• Gave approval of joint powers agreement for facilities management assistance and oversight.

• Gave approval of improvements to Lindsey, Steiner and James Elementary School’s parking lots for safety concerns.

• Gave approval of request for legislative appropriation to install classroom locks and security cameras for Lindsey and Steiner Elementary Schools.

• Announced bid awards for vinyl flooring for various buildings and roof improvement projects for Brown Early Childhood center, Portales Junior High School old gym, and Lindsey and Steiner Elementary Schools.

• Announced bid award for purchase of forklift.