Nacogdoches Independent School District coaches prefer the field, but they teach the traditional classes of biology, health and history. About four is the norm. The superintendent, Dr. Rodney Hutto, says coaches should be teachers first, coaches second. " I don't know why not. The previous district ( where I worked) our coaches taught six classes and then they did athletics after school. "
The superintendent is concerned about high school academic performance. Fifty two seniors failed to graduate. More than 200 dropped out of advanced placement classes and he's expecting a low performance rating by the state.
Following a consultant's visit a scheduling change is on the playing board. It may begin in the locker room. Hutto shared, " The first thing he said was that this is an adult schedule rather than a student schedule that was not sensitive to the needs of the kids. "
A change was made. Next year high school students will start at 8:35, instead of the current 7:30 start time. Classes will end at 3:55, cutting into team practices. The decision is based on scientific studies says Assistant Superintendent of Instruction, Dr. Karen Halverson. " It seems to indicate that a later start in their day helps them perform better in educational tasks and mental tasks."
The athletic director says afternoons are needed for their student's tutorials. In addition, there's training, practice and a busy spring sport season. Harper said, " It's going to be a change for us. I'm going to have to change my tutoring times, study hall times, but we have time in the morning so therefore it appears the study hall time, tutor time will be in the morning, rather than in the afternoon before practice. But we'll make it work."
Hutto can't understand why coaches classroom responsibilities are often over by noon. He holds up a schedule with conference periods and study halls highlighted in yellow and blue. The frequency of both increase as the day gets later. " When I look at then number of people we have that are off the last three periods of the day that means those teachers in the classroom all of a sudden got to increase then number of kids, possibly the most difficult to educate." Harper said, " During travel days,I don't like to take the athletes out of class. That's one of the considerations as far as the conference period for a coach later in the day as opposed to earlier in the day. "
No definite decision has been made. The high school principal and Coach Harper were across the desk from one another working on next year's needs, both in the classroom and on the field. Harper said, " When a coach leaves, the principal tells me what kind of academic teacher he needs. If he needs a chemistry teacher, I start looking for a coach that can teach chemistry." the superintendent says he supports both athletics and academics. "