Board should remand AD job criteria


   Volunteer positions, and by that I mean unpaid, shouldn't be this taxing.
   The 509-J School District Board of Directors has endured a daunting year to date. It's been mini crisis after mini crisis. They've dealt with the ongoing teacher's contract negotiations, which can turn the schools' halls into caldrons of discontent; the optional Willow Creek Community High School and its placing in the midst of of elementary school kids at Westside; the superintendent's hasty plan to restructure the elementary schools in light of that, which made sense on the surface but further angered teachers and was soon made moot when costs of refitting schools were thrown into the equation.
   Tumultuous times indeed.
   Teacher contract negotiations are always acrimonious for a community. At contract time, the relationship between administrators and teachers, for us outside the school walls, is like trusting someone with your kids and all your money at the same time. We love our kids (the teachers) and want them treated well and have nice things, but we don't want our money (the administration) spent foolishly.
   Another situation has the school board in a tight corner -- the MHS athletic director position.
   The administration has had their recommended hire for over a month. However, it's not the person the large majority of interested school employees, existing coaches and vocal Buff sports boosters want for the job. That person is MHS basketball coach Evan Brown. The board rebuffed the administration and has delayed its decision on the AD, giving hope to the Brown backers.
   Brown was never really a serious candidate for the job once the administration established its criteria, which included a two-year administrative degree. Brown was only one year into the program, and had hoped the district would give him the job on the agreement he would complete the degree. The administration didn't seem interested in doing such, and there has been no movement to change the job requirements.
   Madras High is the smallest school in the state's new 5A classification. The district's enrollment starting point, and the low participating rate among the students it does have, puts the school at a disadvantage before the games begin. Achieving and maintaining success will always be a challenge. To do so, the school needs a strong, focused athletic director who has the capacity to draw and select quality coaches, who can help them succeed and build their programs, and who isn't afraid to make changes when they don't.
   The current athletic director says she works 60 to 80 hours a week. I wouldn't wish that schedule on anyone, but we want her replacement to be just as dogged and successful, if not more so. Why are we throwing other consuming duties -- including being a vice principal -- under the new athletic director job description?
   Madras High has long had a quality reputation in athletics, be it facilities, fan support and on the scoreboard. We should not de-emphasize MHS sports and its importance to the students of the high school, those in younger grades striving to one day compete in high school sports, and as an important connection between the school and community. The job should be structured to lure the best person to manage the high school's athletic programs and activities, and not something the individual must squeeze in with a multitude of other responsibilities.
   Maybe that person is Evan Brown, maybe the individual the administation was ready to recommend to the board, or maybe someone else altogether.
   Will the board throw it back at the administration and make them change the position's qualifications? We'll see. Doing so will be an affront to the administration, and to the work they've done on restructuring the AD job. However, not doing so will present even more long-lasting, wide-ranging rancor.