Friday, February 28, 2014

Summer Dreamers 2014, here we come!

Camp Site
Grade Level(s)
Number of Kids Served

4th Grade
Hope to go to Carrick, Brashear or PCA
5th Grade

6th Grade

7th Grade

5th Grade
Team 1 - Hope to go to Westinghouse
6th Grade
Team 2 - Hope to go to Highland Park Pool
7th Grade
Team 3 - Hope to go to Obama 
3rd Grade
Two teams of 20 each. All can swim in Langley's pool.


This is my puzzle and it is what I'm good at dealing with and love to do.

The best case is we get to use more PPS pools. Want to go to Carrick, Brashear and/or PCA, plus Westinghouse, Obama in addition to Langley. Kids would move to different sites with their coaches as per a schedule.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fwd: The Eagle reports with Ivy and Lunch Issues

Swimmer takes on an issue and heads to DC. School lunches. Way to go Ivy.

The Eagle

Posted: 26 Feb 2014 06:25 PM PST
Ivy Ryan, a junior at our school had the amazing opportunity to go to Washington D.C where she met several different political figures and gave a presentation on the issue of school lunches and how they need to be improved.
This all started this summer when Ivy, with about ten other students who participated in the Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild art programs, were chosen to go on a trip to Yellow Stone with an organization called Park Journeys. “During the trip we talked about having a voice because as teenagers we’re usually disregarded in the world,” says Ivy. At the end of her trip they each chose an issue that they felt was prominent in their community and presented it to the group. Ivy chose the issue of school lunches saying, “Providing students with healthier meal choices will result in them being physically and mentally healthier.”
After the presentations, the trip leaders, Joanna and Michelle, chose three students to present their issue in front of representatives so that actions could be taken to resolve them. Ivy was one of the three chosen. “During the next few months we met up with Michelle multiple times to talk about our issue, gather evidence, and create a proposal,” Ivy says. Due to the weather we had however the trip was delayed and when rescheduled the other two girls were not able to attend.
Ivy and her trip leaders Joanna and Michelle headed up to D.C. on February 12th. The day started off with breakfast with Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz’s Chief of Staff and those invested in her campaign. The chief of staff talked about her campaign and the prominent issues she was planning on tackling. “It was fascinating hearing about what she wanted to get done as governor and how she was going to try and get support from her constituents,” Ivy said. Later that day Ivy had meetings with Senator Casey’s staffer, Senator Toomey’s Staffer, and Congressman Doyle’s Staffer. In the meetings Michelle introduced Ivy, Parks Journeys, and the project; then Ivy would explain the issue of school lunches and make an appeal to them on how they needed to be changed at the federal level.
“Every staffer was extremely polite to me, they understood where I was coming from and agreed that it was an important issue to fix, and that it affected education and America as a whole. It was amazing to be a part of the actual government for a day and to see how everything works. These people had to take time out of their extremely busy day to talk to me, and it makes you realize that they really do care about your opinions.”
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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Where have all the students gone?" Parody

Fwd: Olympians in Pittsburgh Water Polo Camp April 12/13th

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Nikola Malezanov <>
Date: Monday, February 24, 2014
Subject: Olympians in Pittsburgh Water Polo Camp April 12/13th
To: Nikola Malezanov <>

Dear Water Polo Friends,

I hope this email finds you well. 
We are hosting our annual "Train with America's Best" with the Olympians at the University of Pittsburgh April 12th/13th. 
Our hosts this year are:

Adam Kirkorian (USA Women's Head Coach, Gold Medalist in  London 2012)

Ryan Bailey (4 time Olympian, Silver in Beijing 2008)

Merrill Moses ( 2 time Olympian, Silver in Beijing 2008, University of Pepperdine Assistant Coach)

Jeff Powers ( 3 time Olympian , Silver in Beijing 2008)

12:00pm start on Saturday, April 12th. Program ends by 2:30pm on Sunday

Two training sessions each day

Program Fee of $250 includes:

- Water/snacks during training

- Saturday lunch for the athletes

- Meet/greet, photo and autograph session prior to Saturday’s first session (parents welcome!)

- Special parent meeting with Coach Krikorian

To register, please click here

This program is actually more than a regular water polo camp. It is one of the most unique water polo experiences available to young players – particularly in the Eastern and Midwestern United States. Train with America’s Best is a  hands-on approach to water polo instruction delivered by coaches and players who have reached the top levels of their sport.  Most importantly, much of the program’s training is done with the instructors in the water so that participants benefit from close-up, in-water demonstrations and interactions.  This type of instruction is a rewarding, beneficial and unique experience for players of all ages. Participants are sure to gain a better understanding of the positions they play and key skills, moves and techniques needed to elevate their overall game. On top of it all, everyone who participates truly gets to say that they have “Trained with America’s Best”. And who knows, maybe they’ll even get to say that they took a shot on Merrill Moses, or that they guarded Ryan Bailey, or that they watched - at water level – a Jeff Powers shot zip past them, not to mention that they worked with an Olympic Gold Medal winning coach in Adam Krikorian. How great is that. - See more at: 

Nikola Malezanov
Tiger Water Polo
North Allegheny Water Polo
ODP East Regional Technical Director
Like us on facebook!

Fwd: News Release - Ken Krawchuk Wins Libertarian Gubernatorial Nomination

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ken Krawchuk, Libertarian for Pennsylvania Governor <>
Date: Monday, February 24, 2014
Subject: News Release - Ken Krawchuk Wins Libertarian Gubernatorial Nomination
To: Recipient List Suppressed <>



February 24, 2014

For more information, please contact:

Ken Krawchuk at or 224-Krawchuk (224-572-9248)





      In a unanimous vote, Ken Krawchuk was chosen as the Libertarian Party's 2014 gubernatorial candidate, and Henry Haller of Pittsburgh as lieutenant governor at the party’s annual convention on Saturday.  Krawchuk and Haller were also the Libertarian nominees for the same offices in the 1998 and 2002 gubernatorial races.


      “This is a great day for Pennsylvania taxpayers”, said Krawchuk, a 60-year-old entrepreneur who hails from Abington Township in Montgomery County.  “The two old parties want to continue to expand a government that’s already too large, too expensive, and too intrusive.  Libertarians are the only ones you can trust to defend the interests of the taxpayer.”


      In an acceptance speech to be broadcast statewide to three million homes by the Pennsylvania Cable Network, Krawchuk pledged to focus on those goals that the governor can achieve unilaterally, without assistance from either the Legislature or the courts.  This includes introducing budgets that eliminate the need for the personal income tax over four years, vetoing all tax increases and any unwarranted expansion of government, aggressively cutting waste and excessive spending via the line-item veto, eliminating parole for violent criminals, pardoning “victimless criminals”, and ending asset forfeiture, among many, many others unilateral powers granted to the Governor by the Pennsylvania Constitution.


      Among his top legislative priorities are cutting taxes and spending via the Separation of Society and State, eliminating the government monopoly on public education, defusing the abortion debate, and reforming unfair ballot access laws that have erected huge barriers for independent candidates and third parties.


      Lieutenant governor nominee Henry Haller, a 66-year-old small businessman from Pittsburgh, was a former Libertarian candidate for US Senate and state Senate before teaming with Krawchuk in 1998 and 2002.  "It is an honor to again be on the ticket with Ken Krawchuk,” Haller said after being unanimously nominated.  “I look forward to assisting him in spreading the message of liberty across Pennsylvania."


      Founded in 1971, the Libertarian Party is the third largest political party in the state and the nation, with over 150 elected and appointed officials currently serving in office nationwide, and 40 in Pennsylvania.  Like the Founding Fathers, Libertarians believe that you have the inalienable right to conduct your life as you see fit, without interference, so long as you respect the rights and property of others.  As a result, Libertarians favor a small, responsible government. 


      For more information about the Libertarian Party, the public is invited to contact the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania at or (800) R-RIGHTS, or the National Libertarian Party at or (202) 333-0008.


      For more information about the Krawchuk campaign, please visit the campaign website at  The campaign can be contacted at, or 224-Krawchuk (224-572-9248).


      - End -





Mark Rauterkus    
PPS Summer Dreamers' Swim and Water Polo Camp Head Coach
Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team
412 298 3432 = cell

Fwd: Free Training for Afterschool Program Staff: Making Action Plans That Improve Student Behavior

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Shayna Willis <>
Date: Monday, February 24, 2014
Subject: Free Training for Afterschool Program Staff: Making Action Plans That Improve Student Behavior
To: Shayna Willis <>


Please forward the following training opportunity to any interested staff.  ACT 48 hours are available.
Shayna Willis, M.A.Ed.
Training Consultant | Neighborhood Learning Alliance

Free Training!

Friday, March 7th from 9:00am-11:00am at the BGC Activity Center (map)


Need some help to get you through the rest of the year?  Coaching and mentoring sessions focus on sharing best practices and brainstorming solutions to common problems.  This week's focus is on creating action plans for challenging students.

Come and learn about the root causes of challenging behaviors, how to address them when they crop up and practical ways to advocate for your students.  Participants in this session will learn from each other and from our expert trainers, Twila Simmons-Walker and Shayna Willis, about what works and what doesn't in working with at risk youth.  Bring us your most challenging cases and leave with an action plan ready for use.    

Twila Simmons-Walker is the Manager of Scholastic Outreach and Education for the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN), where she has worked as an informal educator for the past 12 years. Twila has worked with students as a mentor, environmental educator, and workplace supervisor.  She is a certified elementary and secondary school counselor, and in her free time enjoys working with families as a special education advocate, and on behalf of students with challenging behavior. Twila’s passion for inclusive education is complimented by her experiences as the parent of a child with a pervasive developmental disorder.  

Register here for this event.

Mark Rauterkus    
PPS Summer Dreamers' Swim and Water Polo Camp Head Coach
Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team
412 298 3432 = cell

Monday, February 24, 2014

More Coverage about future sports issues in Pittsburgh Public Schools

The article below is about to appear in the school newspaper, Obama Eagle.

Headline: Sports are saved! (for now?) 

by Lucy Newman, high school junior, Obama Academy

Good news, Pittsburgh. You may remember the Eagle and the Post-Gazette reporting that Superintendent Linda Lane proposed in her State of the District to cut the sports program here at the Pittsburgh Public Schools. This could include middle school swimming, volleyball, and wrestling; high school tennis, swimming, and golf; and all intramural sports. Dr. Lane recently announced that the Administration and School Board do not plan to make any cuts to PPS sports for next year.“There will be no changes for the 2014-15 school year,” declares Ebony Pugh, the PPS Public Information Officer.

Okay, here’s the bad news, as you might have guessed: PPS sports are still on the chopping block for the 2015-2016 school year. So, sophomore swimmers, you may or may not have a team your senior year.

Yet if we students work together with teachers, the Board, and the Administration on this issue, it is possible to find a solution that solves the financial problems related to PPS athletics while keeping a strong sports program available to students.

The move to defer any decision surrounding sports cuts to a later date is not altogether surprising. As the Post-Gazette points out, Dr. Lane had never said when the cuts would come into effect. “We’re not planning to rush through a process to make a decision,” Dr. Lane says, as quoted in the Post-Gazette.

“The District needs to allow for more [time] to engage the Board and Community around any decisions related to athletics,” Ms. Pugh explains. “ Since we are required to make commitments to WPIAL related to next year’s season it was decided to delay any athletic related decisions. We will be engaging the Board and community over the coming months related to recommendations to the Whole Child, Whole Community plan.”

The plan to which Ms. Pugh is referring is called Whole Child, Whole Community: Building a Bridge to the Pittsburgh Promise. Many of the ideas in Whole Child, Whole Community are also discussed in Dr. Lane’s State of the District address. Both can be found on the PPS website. The plan addresses the District’s vision for the future of PPS. Due the district’s financial challenges, a large portion of the document is dedicated to “living within our means.” To do this, the district is considering both increasing revenue and decreasing expenditures.

Cutting the amount of money dedicated to sports is one of the many cost-cutting measures presented in Whole Child, Whole Community. The document presents two options as to how to do this. The first option would reduce the budgetary allocations to be more in line with actual spending, according to Ms. Pugh. The Whole Child, Whole Community document explains that “By reducing the athletics budget for purchased services, which includes funds used to pay sports officials, transport students to competitions and purchase uniforms and equipment, we could reduce spending by up to $400,000 per year. This change is not expected to have a significant impact on students, as the department has not been spending the full budgeted amount in this area.”

The second option would save more money, but would have a much more severe impact on services available. “Eliminating intramural sports; middle school volleyball, swimming and wrestling; and high school golf, swimming and tennis would reduce spending by an additional $600,000 per year,” according to Whole Child, Whole Community.

However, these are not the only two options. Mark Rauterkus, the Obama Boys swim coach, hopes that the district will be open to changes to its sports program. He writes in a detailed position paper several suggestions for ways in which PPS could possibly improve its sports program. Mr. Rauterkus advocates for expanding PPS sports offerings, by implementing a program called PPS H2O. This program could be financially self-sustaining, Mr. Rauterkus believes, because it could raise revenue through community lessons and events. With PPS H2O, the Pittsburgh Public Schools could have water polo, uderwater hockey, kayaking, triathalons, and more, as well as swimming. Further, components of the program would be available to people of all ages.

The delay in making a decision on sports cuts allows students and the community more time to participate in the decision-making process. Any changes will be voted on by the School Board, and there will be multiple opportunities for students and community members to have a say before they vote. Possibilities for community engagement are posted on the district’s website, Facebook, and Twitter. “We’ve got to keep asking a lot of questions,” says Mr. Rauterkus. Only by doing so can we influence the decision-making process to encompass our needs as students.

So, email your Board representative. Speak at a Board meeting. The district’s financial problems can be solved. We need to make sure that we don’t sacrifice too much of what makes our district great in the process.

Same article above but in a one page PDF.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Fwd: News Release - Libertarian Ken Krawchuk to Seek Gubernatorial Nomination This Weekend

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ken Krawchuk
Subject: News Release - Libertarian Ken Krawchuk to Seek Gubernatorial Nomination This Weekend

February 19, 2014
For more information, please contact:
Ken Krawchuk at or 224-Krawchuk (224-572-9248)


        Ken Krawchuk, the Libertarian Party candidate for Pennsylvania
Governor in 1998 and 2002, will be seeking the party's 2014 gubernatorial
nomination this Saturday, February 22, 2014, at their annual convention
being held at the Best Western Lehigh Valley Hotel & Conference Center, 300
Gateway Drive, Bethlehem, PA (  Detailed
information about the convention schedule, speakers, and complimentary media
admission is available at

        Krawchuk believes his chances of receiving the nomination are
excellent.  "I've been campaigning around the state since early November
when I announced my intent to form an exploratory committee, and the
response among Libertarians has been overwhelmingly supportive.  The
long-time party members recall my performance in the debates and on the
campaign trail in 2002, and would love to see an encore.  The newer members
are excited by the idea of a Libertarian Governor candidate, which is
something most of them have never known."  Because of Pennsylvania's onerous
ballot access laws and the anticompetitive antics of the two old parties,
Krawchuk stands as the last third party or independent gubernatorial
candidate to appear on the ballot for more than a decade.

        Krawchuk notes how the political landscape has tilted strongly
toward Libertarian principles since his last campaign.  "When I talked in
2002 about decriminalizing marijuana, legalizing gay marriage, or nullifying
bad federal laws, it was all cutting edge politics.  But today these are all
mainstream ideas that have gained broad public acceptance.  I'm eagerly
looking forward to continuing the discussion of other cutting-edge issues,
including defusing the abortion debate, eliminating the state's monopoly on
public education, and reforming over-regulation and welfare through the
Separation of Society and State, among many other issues.  It's becoming a
very Libertarian world out there, and it's my goal to accelerate that trend,
just as I did in 2002"

        Krawchuk is upbeat about his chances for victory in 2014.
"Historically, voter turnout for gubernatorial elections is less than 40%.
So when you crunch the numbers, you'll find that in a competitive 3-way
race--which it's definitely going to be this year--all it would take for a
Libertarian victory is for us to attract the vote of one out of eight voting
age Pennsylvanians.  One out of eight is all it takes."

        Among the challenges facing not only Krawchuk's campaign, but also
that of any independent or third party candidate, are Pennsylvania's onerous
ballot access laws.  Where the two old parties only need 1,000 or 2,000
signatures to get their candidates on the statewide ballot, Krawchuk
calculates that the Libertarian gubernatorial ticket will need a minimum of
16,639 signatures - eight to sixteen times as many - even though the
Pennsylvania Constitution mandates that "All elections shall be free and
equal."  Adding to that signature burden, in every one of the last five
statewide elections some or all independent and third party candidates have
had their petitions challenged in court, and most candidates were either
intimidated into dropping out of the race or were thrown off the ballot for
specious reasons  Two candidates were also fined over $80,000 each.
"Experience is a harsh schoolmistress," Krawchuk noted, "but we've learned
quite a lot about the system.  We emerged victorious after the Republican's
2012 challenge, and I fully expect we'll weather any challenge in 2014.  But
for the longer term, we're lobbying to have the Voters Choice Act (SB 195)
passed, and that will level the playing field for challenger candidates
across the board regardless of party, and lead to greater competition at the
ballot box and more choices for Pennsylvanians."

        Ken Krawchuk, 60, has been a registered Libertarian since 1993.  He
was born and raised in the Feltonville section of Philadelphia, graduated
with honors from Cardinal Dougherty High School in 1971, and in 1975
received a B.S. in Physics from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia.  He
and his wife Roberta have lived in Abington since 1981, a Philadelphia
suburb, and have three daughters and two grandchildren (with a third on the
way).  Mr. Krawchuk is also an avid whitewater canoeist, year-round
backpacker, and railroad enthusiast.

        Professionally, Mr. Krawchuk is an information technology
entrepreneur serving as a business architect for the pharmaceutical,
insurance, and financial markets.  He is also the lead inventor of three
U.S. Patents related to database theory.

        Mr. Krawchuk is an award-winning Distinguished Toastmaster and a
professional public speaker.  He is also a freelance writer and author of
Atlas Snubbed, a pastiche parody sequel to Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.  He
refers to Atlas Snubbed as his "platform novel" because it describes as
fiction many of the issues highlighted in his campaign, most notably the
Separation of Society and State.

        Founded in 1971, the Libertarian Party is the third largest
political party in the state and the nation, with over 150 elected and
appointed officials currently serving in office nationwide, and 40 in
Pennsylvania.  Like the Founding Fathers, Libertarians believe that you have
the inalienable right to conduct your life as you see fit, without
interference, so long as you respect the rights and property of others.  As
a result, Libertarians favor a small, responsible government.

        For more information about the Libertarian Party, the public is
invited to contact the Libertarian Party of Pennsylvania at or
(800) R-RIGHTS, or the National Libertarian Party at or (202)

        For more information about the Krawchuk campaign, please visit the
campaign website at  The campaign can be contacted at, or 224-Krawchuk (224-572-9248).

Mark Rauterkus    
PPS Summer Dreamers' Swim and Water Polo Camp Head Coach
Pittsburgh Combined Water Polo Team
412 298 3432 = cell

FUD = Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt. FUD stinks. These days, we have PPS FUD

I am quoted in the Post-Gazette article about Pittsburgh Public Schools.

In the little break-out sessions, I spoke a bit, taking my turn. First, read the article.

Pittsburgh school finances attract much interest Three more sessions are slated

February 18, 2014 11:56 PM, By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette  
Caleb Coleman, a program manager for a social service agency, understands the financial challenges facing Pittsburgh Public Schools are serious enough that the public can't get the whole cake.

But he wants a slice.

"You need to give us something," said the graduate of Pittsburgh Peabody High School who works for YouthPlaces, which offers after-school programs to high-risk youth.

Mr. Coleman was among about two dozen people -- some from community service agencies, others from the general public -- who participated Tuesday in the first public community conversations around the "Whole Child, Whole Community: Building a Bridge to the Pittsburgh Promise" report issued by the Pittsburgh Public Schools in December.

The report, part of the district's $2.4 million envisioning process, suggested cuts that could yield savings of $17 million to $44 million a year by 2016, depending on which options the board chooses.

The report also suggested new initiatives that combined could have a one-time cost of $3.8 million to $8.7 million and annual recurring costs of $4 million to $9.9 million.

Tuesday's conversations with superintendent Linda Lane and other administrators were hosted by YouthPlaces and the Hill House Association at Blakey Program Center in the Hill District.

Three other sessions, all from 6 to 8:30 p.m., are scheduled:

• Thursday, Trinity AME Zion Church, 3105 Allendale St., Sheraden, hosted by Trinity.

• March 17, East End Cooperative Ministry Community House, Penn Circle North, East Liberty, hosted by Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee, Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition and Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.

• March 18, Institutional Church of God in Christ, 302 W. North Ave., North Side, hosted by Christians Investing in Education.

At Tuesday's session, administrators presented portions of the plan dealing with living within the district's budget, investing in student performance and investing in people. Those attending were encouraged to offer their own ideas.

Mark Rauterkus of the South Side, a parent and swimming coach at Pittsburgh Obama 6-12, noted the "Whole Child" report's suggestion that five to 10 schools be closed, consolidated or reconfigured in fall 2015 but did not name them.

Mr. Rauterkus said this has created uncertainty, fear and doubt that can lead to families leaving schools in case they might close.

Mr. Rauterkus is among those who have issued their own reports making suggestions, in his case, about sports. His report can be found at
A coalition called Great Public Schools- Pittsburgh recently issued a wide-ranging report that can be found at

The "Whole Child, Whole Community" report can be found at

Education writer Eleanor Chute: or 412-263-1955.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Fwd: [DW] Live Webcast - Knight Media Seminar - Sun, Mon, Tues - Open Gov Session 12 Eastern Tues Feb 18 #infoneeds

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Steven Clift <>

The Knight Foundation's Media Learning Seminar, which mixes community
foundations, online journalism and open government topics, starts
their live webcast Sunday evening and goes through Tuesday.

Tuesday morning is biggest block of plenary speakers.

Here is a Facebook topic for those watching the webcast to share their

Also, their hashtag is #infoneeds:

At 12 Eastern on Tuesday, open government is the main topic on the webcast:

Speakers: Waldo Jaquith, U.S. Open Data Institute; Daniel X. O'Neil,
Executive Director, Smart Chicago Collaborative; Hon. Karen
Freeman-Wilson, Mayor, Gary, Indiana

Immediately after their webcast at 2 pm Eastern on Tuesday, join me
for ~30 minutes in a Google Hangout - experiment - to share your
reactions to the open government session:

I've attended two of these events in the past. The speakers are top
notch. Last year, I had a booth on our project:

(On a related note, CFLeads (a community foundation network) issued a
Call to Action - - in July on community
foundation leadership to promote community engagement. As a member of
that panel, I was promoting deeper and more inclusive digital
engagement. To me, that is the missing link in Knight's Community
Information Challenge - - too, building on
community foundation support for news and information and embracing
the role of community foundations as conveners and supporters of
innovative community engagement. Anyway, I am collecting examples of
place-based foundation leadership with online engagement for a
possible knowledge exchange project, send them along to: )

The streaming agenda:

Livestream Agenda
Feb. 16-18, 2014

Watch at:

All times Eastern (-5 hours for UTC):


5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. - Reception and Dinner

Featured: Carol Coletta, Vice President, Community and National
Initiatives, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation*
(* Mika Brzezinski, originally scheduled, has to cancel due to weather


9:00 - 9:15 a.m. - Welcome

Alberto Ibargüen, President, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

9:15 - 10:30 a.m. - Plenary Session -Seven years ago, a lifetime in
the information arena

Moderator: Alberto Ibargüen; Speakers:  Chris Daggett, President and
CEO, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Emmett Carson, CEO, Silicon Valley
Community Foundation; Kelly Ryan, CEO, Incourage Community Foundation.


8:30 - 9:00 a.m. Design Studio for Social Intervention Recap

Facilitators: Bahia Ramos and Susan Patterson, KCIC Co-Directors,
Knight Foundation

Related link: "Using design thinking for community information needs"
by Marika Lynch on Knight Blog

9:00 - 10:15 a.m. What's new, what's next
Speaker: Amy Webb, Founder, Webbmedia Group

10:15 - 10:30 a.m. Break

10:30 - 11:45 a.m. - Transformative leadership: Communities and journalism

Speakers: Michael Maness, Vice President, Journalism and Media
Innovation, Knight Foundation and David Bornstein, Co-founder,
Solutions Journalism Network

12:00 - 2:00 p.m. Luncheon - Opening government: From data to action

Moderator: Alberto Ibargüen
Speakers: Waldo Jaquith, U.S. Open Data Institute; Daniel X. O'Neil,
Executive Director, Smart Chicago Collaborative; Hon. Karen
Freeman-Wilson, Mayor, Gary, Indiana
Suggested resources: Case Studies: How Four Community Information
Projects Went From Idea to Impact; Opportunities for Leadership:
Meeting Community Information Needs

Steven Clift -
  Executive Director -
  Tel/Text: +1.612.234.7072

Group home for Newswire - Steven Clift's Democracies Online Newswire:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Time to Pull Our Own Weight at the Swim Pools around PPS or else the sites are indoor dumpsters.

I am making more than 40 suggestions within a 45-page position paper just released that I'd love for you to read.

See the links there to the PDFs: Google document, PDF, 45 pages. One page summary in PDF of the 40+ suggestions.

Thanks for all you do for PPS.

Nutshell,  can make PPS Aquatics pull its own weight in terms of finances. I have been trying to do so for three years. The pools and swim teams can be paid for by programs if PPS could just get the political will to let this happen.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Fwd: The Eagle on PPS Teacher Evaluations by Lucy N, a swimmer.

--------- Forwarded message ----------

The Eagle

One problem of significant consequence with the current teacher evaluation system is how difficult it is to write an article on the subject. Teachers are afraid. Several of the teachers whose opinions I asked about refused to comment on the evaluation systems, or told me their opinions “off the record.” Their jobs are at stake, and they believed that saying the wrong thing in print could get them in trouble. And just as important as the jobs of these teachers, the education of Pittsburgh’s students is also on the line. An education system in which a few words that may not sound politically correct could get a high-quality teacher in big trouble is compromising the future of its students.

It is always important to ensure that teachers are effective. It is as important to teachers and students, all of whom are directly involved in the process of learning, that teaching is effective, as it is to administrators looking at the test scores and the bottom line. According to Ms. Papale, Pittsburgh Obama’s ninth and eleventh grade English teacher, “We want all of our colleagues to be doing their share. It makes it easier on us.” But there are sometimes a few teachers who cannot maintain sufficient control of their classroom, who do not seem to be invested in instilling their knowledge on the youth in their class, or who simply do not seem to understand what they are teaching.

This is where teacher evaluation comes in. Similar to standardized tests for students, there are several tools that the Pittsburgh Public Schools district is currently using to evaluate its teachers. Value-Added Measures, commonly abbreviated as VAM, is one such method. VAM attempts to measure the academic growth of students that can be attributed to a particular teacher. This is done by examining how students standardized test scores have improved, and by comparing the students’ test scores to those of other students. The Pittsburgh Public Schools are also currently implementing student and principal evaluations of teachers. The students of at least one class taught by each teacher evaluate that teacher using a survey called Tripod, which contains 89 questions relating to the teacher and the class. The principals at each school also rate the teachers there. All of the above factors are combined into a composite score that affect whether the teacher is in line to be laid off, to be put on an improvement plan, or will get pay raises and bonuses.

The Pittsburgh Public Schools recently got a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for $40 million in order to improve the quality of teachers. The system that the Gates Foundation has pushed to be implemented at PPS is based on the system that Bill Gates had used – and recently abandoned – at Microsoft. Perhaps the worst part of the system is that it forces a certain percentage of employees to be placed into each of several categories. This means that it forces some teachers to fail each year. But it is unrealistic to say that no matter how good a school is some teachers have to fail. If the principal hired only the best applicants in the first place, as he would logically attempt to do, there may be no need for anyone to fail. The system fosters unhealthy competition among colleagues, and causes teachers an unnecessary amount of anxiety.

Starting this year, 50 % of the teacher evaluation is based on an administrator’s classroom observation. The other 50 % is comprised of student outcomes. The “student outcome” category can be divided further to say that VAM for a specific teacher counts for 30 % of that teacher’s score, Tripod surveys for 15 %, and VAM for a school in general for 5 %. This information was obtained from a publication called “Education Committee Update: Empowering Effective Teachers,” published in January 2013. The publication uses idealistic and vague language, saying for example that the district’s goals are to “accelerate student achievement” and to “become a district of first choice.” Its methods for doing this are to instate a strict high-stakes teacher evaluation system that may not effectively distinguish good teachers from bad.
Evaluating a teacher is not easy to do. PPS is trying to make the system more quantitative, but this does not always mean that it is more objective. “There are 1,000 different ways to be a good teacher and 10,000 different ways to be a bad teacher… And just because you can’t punch the boxes doesn’t mean you’re a bad teacher” says Mr. Boyce, a teacher at the Pittsburgh Gifted Center. A good teacher will instill knowledge in his or her students. Beyond that, there are many options and many different ways to be a good teacher.

Further, some of the things that teachers give their students are difficult to quantify. As summarized by Mark Rauterkus, a PPS father, the best thing a teacher can do is teach students “a thirst for knowledge and how to discover things for themselves. If a teacher teaches a student a love of learning in a subject, that’s fantastic.”

Mr. Dumbroski teaches eighth grade English at Obama, and is also involved in the teacher evaluation process as an administrator. According to him, a good teacher is “somebody who’d do whatever is humanly possible to get the most out of every single student with whom they come into contact.” For Mr. Dumbroski, a good teacher teaches more than academic lessons; he can teach social skills and life lessons as well. “Here’s a hint for how to be a good teacher,” Mr. Dumbroski says, “Remember that students are people, too.” In his classroom, Mr. Dumbroski attempts to connect with and teach each and every one of his students.

Mr. Kocur, Obama’s tenth grade English teacher, agrees. “First and foremost, a good teacher needs to be able to communicate with a variety of different kids.” It is important to Mr. Kocur that teachers have empathy. “Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,’” Mr. Kocur says, quoting leadership expert John C. Maxwell.

To Ms. Hetrick, the most important quality of a teacher is “passion.” This includes passion for the content being taught, as well as passion for the process of teaching. It is necessary for a teacher to care passionately about his or her students in order to instill in them a passion for learning.

Yet whether a teacher makes a student want to learn, connects and empathizes with his students, cares about his students as individuals, or has passion is difficult to measure on any sort of evaluation.

Also, a teacher who is effective for one group of students may be ineffective for others, and different students show improvements at different rates. With increasing class sizes, it is becoming more and more difficult for teachers to teach to the individual students in their classes. Further, class sizes are being increased and “mainstream” level classes have been abolished. This has resulted in students of ever more varying abilities being placed in the same class. The teacher’s job is becoming more and more challenging.

The current default model for education at PPS is one in which students have minimal choice in their classes, and in which teachers have minimal choice in what is taught. Curricula are set by the district, and each student has to take a certain set of classes with few possible variations. Teachers have to cover a specified curriculum on which the students will be tested at the end of the year as mandated by the district. In a system in which neither the teacher nor the students have choice over what is taught, some of the results being evaluated may not be attributable to the teacher. However, there are alternatives to the current model. For example, the Pittsburgh Gifted Center is based on a different model. There, teachers design their own curricula so they are able to teach at a pace that they feel best fits the needs of the class. Additionally, students can choose the courses they want to take so they are often more motivated to participate in the classes in which they are enrolled.

The classroom observation component, half of teachers’ composite scores is being shifted to a system called the Research-based Inclusive System of Evaluation, or RISE, in which teachers are rated in categories such as planning, instruction, and leadership on a scale of one to four based on their performance. “I actually think the RISE components do a pretty good job of identifying everything we’re looking for,” says Ms. Hetrick, Obama’s ceramics and IBDP visual arts teacher. The system is numerical and more standardized than previously used systems in which principal evaluations were based on value judgments. When Ms. Hetrick looks at the criteria, she sees the “distinguished” category as something she wants to work towards, and appreciates that the RISE rubric’s different levels seem to make sense.

Mr. Boyce points out the human factor that goes into the RISE system. “If you want to make me look like a good teacher you can make me look like a good teacher. If you want to make me look like a bad teacher, you can do that, too. I guess I kind of like the old go-or-no-go thing because I was in the military. RISE is just a fancy way of doing the same thing.” It is true that even in the RISE system, a principal has a lot of sway.

Pittsburgh Obama is fortunate to have a principal, Dr. Walters, who is a strong and fair leader. Yet principals like Dr. Walters are few and far between. One teacher from another school, who would like to remain unnamed, reports that his personal differences with his principal got in the way of her objectivity and brought down his rating. She rated him as “basic” in just enough categories that he would fail his RISE evaluation, despite the fact that his VAM scores were above the school’s average. “You can say its objective until you’re blue in the face,” agrees Mr. Kocur. “But it still comes down to an administrator walking in and saying what he thinks of you.”
The VAM system, comprising 30 % of teacher scores, seems mathematically pure at first glance, but does not necessarily treat all teachers fairly. Mr. Boyce believes that the sample of students in one classroom is not big enough. “They take a sample size of 30 students and apply that to 10,000. Because really, they’re using my students to say how I’d perform across the board. And that’s not realistic. In research science, a sample size of 30 typically means nothing but some preliminary results that could lead to further research.”

While the VAM system assumes that students are randomly assigned to teachers, this is rarely the case. Students can sometimes, but not always, choose their schools and classes. Differences in students from class to class greatly affect how the scores will turn out here. Mr. Boyce’s classes at the Gifted Center are more likely to perform well because many of them chose to be in his class.

Further, a study by the Gates Foundation has shown that VAM is more applicable to math than it is to language subjects. Children learn language from a variety of sources, including family and peers as well as school, while they learn math primarily from their teachers. Yet in the Gates Foundation model, VAM is being used across the board in both math and language subjects.

However, VAM is not being used in all subjects. It is used in the subjects for which there are standardized tests: english, math, and some sciences and social studies classes. Teachers for other subjects get a different type of score, called a 3f, which shows student growth based on criteria that the teacher decides at the outset. While it is unfair to grade different teachers on different standards, it is also unfair to the students to create standardized tests in even more subjects simply as a way to grade the teachers. Ms. Berry, a middle school math teacher at Obama who is involved in the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and who is a member of the committee that decides on evaluation criteria, says that “they shouldn’t test kids in every subject, because then it’s just a test for the teacher. I think it’s just mean to kids, the amount of testing they do…. Some things you should learn just because they are beautiful to learn.”

Student surveys, the Tripod questionnaires, comprise 15 % of teachers’ scores in the new system. According to Mr. Boyce, to be a good teacher “you teach for a long time, and you don’t repeat the things that don’t work. You do repeat the things that do work, and you throw something new in there every once in a while.” Mr. Boyce believes that the student Tripod surveys are helpful in this way. They allow him and other teachers to recognize their weaknesses and find things that they can improve on. The Tripods allow him to better understand how his students feel about him, to fix misconceptions, and to work on problems. Student feedback is useful if it can improve a teacher’s practices without putting too much at stake.

There are, however, some problems with high-stakes student surveys such as Tripod. “I don’t like some of the questions on Tripod,” explains Mr. Schaefer, a history teacher at Obama. Of the eighty-nine questions on the Tripod survey, many depend on factors that are not within the teacher’s control. It is a joke among students and teachers at Obama and other PPS schools that one of the questions is whether the class “feels like a big, happy family.” In fact, many students do not take the survey seriously in general. Some are fatigued by the length of the questionnaire and the fact that many questions are repetitive (evidently in order to ensure fairness), while others allow their personal feelings about a teacher to taint the results. Yet it is not a joke that such subjective questions are putting teachers’ jobs and student education on the line. It should not be expected at a middle school or high school level that the class “feels like a big, happy family,” and whether it does or doesn’t likely depends more on the students than the teacher.

Mr. Dumbroski believes that student feedback is useful, but that the Tripod survey does not go about collecting feedback the right way. Instead, he has his students write down on note cards at the end of each grading period what they feel he did right and what they would want him to work on. One suggestion that he received in this way was to give the students more choice; in response, he began to allow students to propose their own ideas for projects, rather than always choosing from a list of suggestions. Also, some students would write on the note cards that the pace of the class was too fast, while others would write that it was too slow. As a result, Mr. Dumbroski has begun to give more individual attention to students in his class. Mr. Dumbroski feels that this note card system lets him understand what is most important to his students more effectively than the Tripod does.

Colleges and universities are beginning to count student evaluation of teachers for less and less. According to Mr. Boyce, studies have begun to discredit such evaluations. “This is the exact system that colleges and universities are getting away from,” says Mr. Boyce. “Statistically, kids who perceive their grades as being good in a class are more likely to rate their teachers higher. Teachers can then manipulate the system by inflating grades.” So it is questionable whether a system that is being abandoned at the college and university level should be taken up and implemented for middle and high schools.

The last 5 % of teachers’ scores is based on the building’s VAM scores in general. This is entirely illogical, as the teacher has little or no influence on how students perform in a class down the hall. VAM’s inability to control for variables is magnified when it is applied to classes that a teacher doesn’t even teach.

As the system is currently set up, the above factors will be tallied up and turned into a score out of 300. If a teacher gets less than 140 points, that teacher is considered failing and put on an improvement plan. If he or she does not improve sufficiently within two years, the teacher will be fired. Teachers were given scores last year, although the scores will not count as grounds for being fired until after this year.

Last year nine percent of teachers were placed in the lowest category. Nationally, less than one percent of teachers are failed, but teachers in other districts are graded with different standards. If last year’s results are any predictor of this year’s, Pittsburgh’s teachers will be failed ten times more than the national average. The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, Pittsburgh’s teacher union, believes that the 140-point cut-off is far too high.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Superintendent Lane both disagree. The Gates Foundation has been hinting at withdrawing the remaining $15 million of the $40 million grant that it awarded to Pittsburgh Public if the district does not comply with the 140-point standard. “We have not made any decisions about the future of the grant, but we are continuing to watch this very carefully,” reports Vicki Phillips, the director of College-Ready Education at the Gates

This puts the pressure on the district and Dr. Lane to go along with the Gates Foundation’s strict cut-off. Dr. Lane says, “I’m still a firm believer that there is a correlation between effective teaching and student learning outcomes.” To back this up, she cites a study that concludes it is twice as likely for students who show significant improvement to have teachers in the top category. What she does not mention is that sometimes there are students who show improvement under “failing” teachers or who show less improvement under top-rated teachers.
The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers and Dr. Lane are currently at odds over the issue of teacher evaluation. “I thought we were partners in reform, but the partnership [with the union] has been rocky, let’s just say that,” Dr. Lane says. While both agree that effective teaching is important, they have strong differences when it comes to how to implement teacher-evaluation reform.

Ms. Berry acknowledges that not all teachers are good teachers. To be a good teacher, it is necessary to have coherent lessons, a good relationship with students, and a desire to work. “It has a lot to do with personality,” she says. Implementing any plan to improve failing teachers is difficult, because some people do not have the personality for it. “It does take a long time,” Ms. Berry says, “to improve a poor teacher. I don’t know how you’d set it [an improvement plan] up so that it’d be fair to teachers and students.” On the one hand no one wants to fire a teacher who may be simply misunderstood, but on the other hand the students and the whole system suffer under poor teachers.

To Mr. Dumbroski, the problem is that “No matter what, any type of evaluation tool, there’s going to be something wrong with it.” No matter how perfect the RISE criteria can be, the people who are checking the boxes are not perfect. No matter how many numbers and mathematical equations are used to compute RISE, VAM, and Tripod scores, the result is variable and subjective. There is a certain amount of bias that is impossible to remove.

To Mr. Kocur, teachers are not the problem in the first place. “At some point, people should stop being politically correct and put the blame where it is due. Behind nearly every good student, there is a supportive parent, and vice versa.” Teachers are held responsible by national, state, and local governments (including the school board), by the media, and by philanthropic organizations like the Gates Foundation for failures in student education. But according to Mr. Kocur, students should be learning from their parents before they can talk. Children who have parents who read to them, who help them with homework, and who model and encourage a positive attitude towards learning, are more likely to succeed in school than those who do not. This is as important as teachers are to student education, yet it is rarely considered in government laws and plans, by the media, or by philanthropic organizations who want to donate to education.

The way in which teacher evaluation tools should be utilized is debatable. While some of the measures that PPS is taking are more legitimate than others, it is clear that there are many problems with the current system. The PPS students and teachers are hoping that Superintendent Lane, the school board, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will consider how difficult it is to rank teachers by how well they teach, before making scores so critical to a teacher’s future.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Fwd: Position paper on PPs sports


Pittsburgh Public Schools wants to cut swimming as well as golf, tennis, and all intramural sports. Some feel they will drain all the PPS pools this summer and never re-open them.

Physical ed and health are getting big cuts too, so revealed a memo this week.

None at PPS are talking to me. Silence. Stonewalls. The ploy is to say nothing then cut for sure and in a bit is is all over.

Lots of help is needed. But let's get on the same page. Here are my positions.

Thanks for whatever you can do and help.

Mark Rauterkus

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Mark Rauterkus" <>
Date: Feb 8, 2014 10:24 PM
Subject: Position paper on PPs sports
To: "Kevin Shevitz" <>



Mark R

Friday, February 07, 2014

The PTO at Sci-Tech, 6-12, have taken notice of the sports cuts and offer suggestions

See the PTO Newsletter:

It says, in part, SAVE OUR SPORTS:

Save our sports teams!

posted 12 hours ago by Lorrie Cranor   [ updated 12 hours ago ]
The proposed budget for the 2014-2015 school year includes eliminating golf, swimming, and tennis teams for the Pittsburgh Public Schools. 

Here is a link to a good PPG article summarizing the cuts, the sports cuts are toward the end:

Here is the link to Linda Lane's state of the district address that includes these proposed cuts:

Every month there is a public hearing at the school board, during which the public can speak about any topic they wish (for 3 mins each). The next meeting is Monday evening Feb 24 at 6PM at the District Office on Bellefield Ave.  We encourage parents and students to speak about how they feel about the proposed elimination of swimming as a PPS sport. If anyone wishes to speak, he/she should call (412) 622-3868 beginning Mon Feb 17 to be added to the list of speakers.  The procedures are described at:

The other thing that people can do is to email Dr. Lane and the school board directly (email addresses below) voicing their opinions. They have to do more than complain though-- focus on points like these:

--Reasons sports in general (and these in particular) are good for students
--how eliminating these sports will detract from their goal of making PPS a "district of choice"
--point out that tennis and golf are inexpensive sports and swimming, which is more costly, can be saved by enacting some of Mr. Rauterkus' ideas (see below). 

School Board email address:
Dr. Lane's email address:

Parents and students expressing their strong opposition and explaining why these cuts hurt students is the best was to save these sports for SciTech students. 

The USO swim coach, Mark Rauterkus, has written on his blog and published a piece in the Obama Eagle (student paper), about why cutting these sports hurts both students and PPS overall. He has some cost-effective suggestions for the district that would allow them to keep (and in some cases improve) some sports within PPS.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Position Paper, Alpha, posted within the blog

A position paper from Mark Rauterkus

Alpha Release, 02/02/14

Delivered to:
Dara Ware Allen, PPS Administration, Student Services
Ron Joseph, PPS Administration, Chief Operations Officer
Mike Gavlik, PPS Athletics
Liza Simmons, Obama Academy Athletics

Some fellow coaches within PPS and some nonprofit CEOs

Mayor Bill Peduto, Kevin Acklin, Chief of Staff
Corey O'Connor, Pgh City Council and Chair of Recreation Committee
Michael Lamb, City Controller

The concept of “fewer sports” for Pittsburgh Public Schools is wrong for many reasons.
With fewer sports, more students are going to depart the city and Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS).

Sports help students get “promise ready.” Plus with sports, students gain admission to better colleges with more financial aid. Furthermore, athletes are embraced with support and instant friendships after they get onto their campus settings. Athletes do better in the classroom with higher grades in both high school and in college.

Having sports such as swimming, golf and tennis insures “excellence for all.” Pittsburgh students need schools with programs that teach how to perform in a competitive world where strong team behaviors and pressure situations are the norm.

Sports help youngsters understand what in life matters and where the noise and less important distractions reside. Quality sports experiences do wonders to teach our kids how to better manage time, space, and relationships, especially with themselves and peers.

PPS does not need fewer sports, but rather: better, smarter, more flexible and sustainable sports. We need integrated lessons from sports and wellness, and engaging sports experiences that span years, generations and communities.

With crisis comes opportunity.
My hope is to advance alternatives to “fewer sports.” Better discussions, decisions and solutions can lead the administration and board to improved outcomes and less overall PPS spending. Sports at our schools and parks can be improved greatly and be a deeply positive connection to greater number of students, citizens and taxpayers. Pittsburgh is a sports town. Sports can be a key to helping fix some of the problems in the district, the city and region.

Background articles in Obama Eagle, school newspaper:

Suggestions in a one page PDF.

Suggestion #1a:
PPS Superintendent, Doctor Linda Lane, should re-establish our Athletic Reform Task Force.
I was appointed to the sports-reform committee established by Mark Roosevelt. When Dr. Lane became superintendent, she put those efforts and its findings to the back burner in favor of paying $2.7 million to consultants for an “envisioning process.”
Rich discussions about philosophy with data, hard evaluations and long-term planning should occur with both district personnel and coaching leaders.
With Doctor Lane's approval, I'll gladly re-convene and lead another sports reform process. It could continue in duration from a week to a year.
Athletic participation is the single most popular school-sponsored extracurricular activity among adolescents regardless of gender, race, and ethnicity (e.g., U.S. Department of Education, 1995Eccles & Barber, 1999)
Example 1: A Title IX study for PPS was conducted by an outside consultant, Peg Pennypacker. The report took more than a year to research, was delivered months late, had dozens of blind spots. Findings reported what was already understood by those within the district. The report was a ploy to delay needed changes. Actions driven by earnest and open discussions are needed. Delays and outside consultants are not necessary.
Example 2: The Envisioning process of 2013 cost $2.7 million more than the Athletic Reform Task Force. One PPS employee, Jake House, was hired for the project for one year with outside (soft) money. Mr. House later transferred to other duties and has since left the district. Volunteers and staff can make the Sports Reform Task Force work if political will flows from the board, PPS administration and/or city hall.

Suggestion #1b:
This position paper can fill the early agenda for task force meetings.
What follows needs editing, expansion, and support with cost-benefits analysis and SWOT charts. Votes from those on the re-established Athletic Reform Task Force would assure different opinions on different matters get debated and represented.

Suggestion #1c:
The next task force should include a research component. Examine student data along with Pittsburgh Promise data.
I'm not surprised swimmers lead the school in the classroom. Class rank, test scores, attendance, college admissions and overall school success with swim team scholar-athletes is remarkable. Swimming and fitness make kids smarter and more engaged. As a district we should expand and replicate successes, not suppress and cut. My hypothesis: Cutting swimming would crush school-wide academic excellence.
Example 1: The top student in the class of 2014 at Obama is the boys swim team captain.
Example 2: A super-majority of IB candidates in the past five years have been on the swim team.
Example 3: I imagine that Allderdice swimmers have similar, high-performing academic performance as well. Leah Furman, Allderdice swimmer, 2013 graduate, established new swim records at Wellesley College this fall.
Leah's younger brother is a great athlete too. He is a wrestler and does not attend a PPS school, sadly.

Suggestion #2:
Understand that the cutting swimming isn't about money.
More than three years ago, and many times since, a pledge of $50,000 per year was offered to the principal at Obama Academy. Every year for the past 3 years, the Obama swim team could have been giving the school and its athletic department $50K. These funds could be pulling the financial weight of the swim teams.
At regular intervals I've approached many at PPS offering to lead programs that would make money at the pools. I can't explain the rejections. The lack of cooperation and communication has been astounding. It is NOT okay to use money as an excuse so as to cut the swim programs now. The real blame is not money but is a blend of poor cooperation, incompetence, ignorance and a dash of board policy.
Incomes from swimming lessons, community programs, races, water polo, and other regular activities that generally happen at public school pools in the region and the nation have been squandered.
Example 1: Northgate High School's age-group swim program has more than 130 kids. Each pays $500 per year. Northgate's swim club generates $67,000+ in user fees. Northgate, our competition, has feeder programs and income generation. These programs happen throughout the WPIAL, but not in the city, sadly. The Obama boy swimmers beat Northgate in the past 2 seasons. This year, the girls of Northgate beat Obama.
Example 2: In five weeks of 2013 PPS Summer Dreamers Academy's Swim & Water Polo Camp, the total budget was $50,000. More could be earned in the other 46 weeks of the year.
Example 3: When Peter J. Camarda (now retired) was the PPS business manager, he attached a $16,000 price tag to a pool permit request from the varsity coach for off-season conditioning for the Obama varsity swim team. The uncooperative and lazy within PPS are few. Nonetheless, one objection has always toppled plans. Inspiring recreational programs requires institutional support.
Summary: Don't say swimming was cut because of money. Moving forward, everyone can understand that money is not a problem in the swim programs.

Suggestion #3a:
Allow me, Obama head boys swim coach, to operate a robust aquatics program called, “PPS H2O.”
I'd be happy to work with top PPS administrators to eliminate hurdles and form an endeavor, “PPS H2O.” Without a doubt, a robust aquatics program would pull its own weight with finances. Significant funds ($50,000 per year) can be generated by the aquatics programs at Obama and PPS.
The students, the swim team, the athletic department, the school, and the district benefits. Existing facilities and proven leadership can be leveraged to everyone's advantage making “PPS H2O” a city-wide proving ground for community enrichment, cooperation, and competitive sports programs.
Money can be generated with user fees, sponsorships/grants, special events and sales. The aquatic programs can be made to be viable with incomes that exceed expenses. Business plan documents that detail additional income activities (S6, Tech Captains, etc.) are available. With PPS H2O, long-term cuts can be made to the PPS budget.
Example 1: In 1992, a weekend YMCA invitational swim meet at Plum HS in a 6-lane pool, earned $10,000. In meets alone, Pittsburgh should be offering 5 to 12 meets a year at our pools, earning $50,000 to $120,000.
Suggestion #3b
Launch “PPS H2O,” a comprehensive aquatic program for schools and citizens.

The concept map shows what should be happening in our pools.

Suggestion #3c:
Do eliminate PPS middle school and elementary school swimming from the PPS Athletics budget if some funds can be used to establish “PPS H20” for the management of after school swim efforts throughout the city.
Presently, the middle school swimming teams in PPS have a lot to be desired. Better outcomes can be obtained and are expected.
The suggestion of “some of the funds” could be measured as 50% of the savings in the first year and no additonal funds in future years. Example with round numbers: If $100,000 is for the yearly ongoing budget for the cut programs, put 50%, $50,000 into one-time start-up investment for PPS H2O.
That one-time start-up is really a budget line-item transfer because PPS H20 is still part of PPS for a few years until it can spin out as its own 501(c)(3) and sustain itself.

Suggestion #3d:
Swim coaching connections are needed among Elementary, Middle School and Varsity Swim Teams.
At present, coaches throughout PPS do their own thing without the benefit of any system, guidance, benchmarks and training standards. Systems can be flexible to allow for creativity at various sites, but more often than not, the on-deck coaches welcome support, insight and purpose.
In WPIAL settings, a head coach leads the varsity team and has strong oversight over the JV, Middle School and Club settings. Kids get to develop in coordinated programs and with a unified vision. That is missing in the city, especially in aquatics.
After establishing PPS H20, coaching philosophies, strategies, tactics and techniques can be universal. A unified program can advance. Now, varsity coaches need to re-teach and overcome bad habits developed by younger swimmers. With a sports system, giant advances are expected year-to-year. Athletes should be able to develop in a system with skills, strength, conditioning, competitions and cognitive abilities.
Example: The boys varsity swim team at Obama had had most of this season's meets without a single freshman. The program at the old Frick Middle School, years ago, was ten times better than what is happening now. Team size today is a fraction of the past. Participation droped from 60 to less than a dozen in two years. AM practices were three times a week and they don't happen at all in 2013-14. The 14 year champions streak ended last year for both the boys and girls. The varsity head coach has no standing in today's system with four distinct swim coaches, boys and girls, middle school and high school. The PPS school framework with grades 6-12 in the same school delivers no benefits and lots of frustrations in athletics, especially in swimming.

Suggestion #3e:
Some Middle School Swimming needs to occur in the spring.
Most of the WPIAL teams have middle school swimming seasons in the spring. At present, with the 6-12 grades in the same pool, high school students have an impossible schedule. Varsity teams should have swim practices at 6 am and again immediately after school at 3 pm. Now the pool is not open at 3 pm as there is middle school physical education classes to 4 pm. Then at 4 pm to 5 pm is the middle school swim team practice time if not meets. High school swimmers can not waste 2 hours a day and function well.

Scheduling matters in a school pool that serves grades 6 to 12.

Season Prime time use of the pool Secondary uses of the pool
Fall Water Polo Triathlon, etc.
Winter High School Swim Team Winning Swimming Rookie Camps
Spring Middle School Swim Team Lifeguard and Instructor Training
Summer Swim & Water Polo Camps All-City Sports Camps

With the arrival of PPS H2O, the swim seasons can be coordinated. Schedules can be made so challenges are appropriate for the various athletes, coaches, communities and facilities.

Suggestion #4:
Swimming in the city needs better focus, management, finances and opportunities. “PPS H2O” can be started to deal with the aquatics issues.
Citiparks, swim lessons, All-City Sports Camps, Summer Dreamers, varsity teams, age group teams, middle school teams, elementary school teams, and community programs all blend and mix and need coordination. PPS operates nearly 20 school pools. The city of Pittsburgh has many outdoor pools and one indoor facility, the Oliver Bath House. Associations with Kingsley Center, YMCA, JCC, colleges and charter schools are expected.
Swimming is important as swimming is a life saving skill. Since kids of color are six-times more likely to die by drowning and since drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental deaths for kids, and since PPS swim facilities are already built, and since Swim & Water Polo Camp was the most popular option for kids and families in the 2013 Summer Dreamers sign up process, let's insure our kids get into the pool and get to swim. Knowing how to swim saves lives.
PPS H20 will teach every 7-year-old in the city how to swim for free if PPS Board would give access to the public swim pools in our schools. This significant “reach goal” for PPS H2O can rally the community. The plans of a gratis swim team experience for every 7-year-old in the city will “re-create” swimming in this town with three rivers. With the PPS pools and the Oliver Bath House, especially in the summer, kids can get into swimming at an ideal age as reading and mental skills mature. Concepts of times, strokes, rules, standards, whole-body movements, team-spirit and races should be mastered in the pool at “Winning Swimming Rookie Camps.” As the kids grow, those that enjoy swimming continue and pay modest user fees.
The time is right for the new PPS board with the new Pittsburgh mayor to pass new policies and a resolution (that costs nothing) so as to provide access for our programs within already existing swimming pools in our public buildings. Getting access to swim pools has been nearly impossible. All the PPS pools are closed all summer with few exceptions. Pools are closed, for the most part, on afternoons, evenings, nights, weekends and vacation days. Access to swim pools isn't needed 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, but rather when the custodians are already on duty in the buildings.
Example: No person has ever died after missing a 3-point basketball shot. On the other hand, if someone finds himself in deep water and can't swim, death is a possibility.
Example: PPS H2O would operate with tight relationships with Citiparks and others. See the 8 page newspaper supplement published with the South Pittsburgh Reporter that was part of Swim & Water Polo Camps in July 2013.

Suggestion #5a:
Let's run “All-City Sports Camps” for up to 1,000 students starting May 1 and ending September 10, 2014, as a joint project of Citiparks, PPS and PPS H2O.
We can reach 1,000 this summer if PPS provide access to some of our public sports facilities as well as lunch-time meals via the federal lunch program.
A $100,000 budget can handle operations. None of those funds come from PPS. Rather, the sale of city pool tags / user fees and sponsorships pay for the All-City Sports Camp.
Background: When PPS Summer Dreamers Academy began, its vision included meaningful, quality activities for every middle school student in PPS. The aim was to curb summer learning loss. About 20 sites were utilized in the first year. In 2014, Summer Dreamers Academy is expected to have one middle school site and 3 elementary grade sites.
Demand is present. In 2013 more than 1,200 students applied yet got rejection letters saying that there was no room for them at Summer Dreamers. In 2012, more than 1,600 students got rejection letters.
A 2014, the new All-City Sports Camp can meet the programming challenges and demands of parents, citizens and taxpayers. Those that have been getting denied admission to the full-day Summer Dreamers Academy can attend the half-day All-City Sports Camp.
Students who have a week of family vacation are told to not enroll in Summer Dreamers as attendance at SDA is a huge factor. Students are only allowed to miss 3 of the 28 days before getting expelled.
The All-City Sports Camp can provide bridge activities for those in Summer Dreamers for other days throughout the summer, before and after the official 28 days of Summer Dreamers.

. - . - . - . - . - . -Enclosed proposal . - . - . - . - . - . -

All City Sports Camp, Summer of 2014
Proposal from Mark Rauterkus,, 412-298-3432
Sponsorship could re-name the camps. UPMC, Dick's, Body Media, Dollar Bank, etc.
Branding sponsors options can be found. The Pittsburgh Marathon brand, Kids of STEEL, could be part of the camp's name. This is pending and not approved yet. So, the title could become, The Kids of STEEL Summer Sports Camp, or some like that.

Staffing synergy:
In the summer of 2013, the Swim & Water Polo Camps as part of PPS Summer Dreamers Academy had more than 35 employees. A great staff was assembled. However, work lasted just four hours per day, noon to 4 pm, for 28 days.

In 2012 and 2011, our staff worked in the mornings and the afternoons, up to 8 hours a day. In those years, the activities portion of the camp happened for some students in the mornings and for other students in the afternoons. Academics were in the other half of the day.

Employees, especially college kids in need of money for tuition payments, need to earn money in the summers. The mid-day hours and 20-hour weekly limit made it difficult for 2013 employees to earn what they could. Some employees skipped over the assistant coaching jobs for lesser positions that gave them more hours elsewhere.

We hope to use a majority of the staff from Swim & Water Polo Camp for full-day of work. More hours means better money for each staff member. Plus, more hours means we have a better staff as those who need to save for college with summer work can join these efforts.

Pittsburgh City Councilman, Rev. Ricky Burgess, hopes to raise the city's youth employment budget to $600,000 in 2014. Coaching our kids in structured fitness settings makes an excellent summer job for many.

Facility synergy:
Citiparks swim pools open to the public at 1 pm. In the morning hours, plenty of space is available. Likewise other facilities, such as the gym at Ammon Rec Center have morning hours available.

The PPS Summer Dreamer sites, such as PCA and Langley, have open swim pools open in the mornings too, because the Summer Dreamers activities are in the afternoons.

Weather synergy:
Morning times are better for conditioning so as to avoid the afternoon summer heat.

In 2012, more than 1,600 kids applied and were not able to be serviced.
In 2013, more than 1,300 kids applied to Summer Dreamers and got rejection letters.
In 2014, Summer Dreamers has 1 less site, 4. In 2013 there were five.

Number of Locations for the All City Sports Camps:
In the first year, 2014, we would want more than three but less than ten sites.

All City Sports Sites:
Specific sites are pending. Getting support from Pittsburgh Public Schools for use of facilities is the challenge. However, the trend is moving in the right directions.

Proposed (and optional) 2014 sites, in no specific order:
1. North: Oliver High School
2. Central: South Side's Cupples Stadium
3. Hill District: Ammon Rec Center, and Thelma Lovette YMCA
4. West: PCA / Greenway
5. South: Carrick High School
6. East: Westinghouse High School
7. Golf: Schenley's Bob O'Connor Golf Course
8. Obama / Peabody
9. Arsenal
10. U-Prep
11. Sci-Tech
12. Perry

The 2014 PPS Summer Dreamers expects to 4 sites, (5 in 2013).
Langley = K-5 grades;
Faison = K-5 grades;
Carmault = K-5 grades;
PCA / Greenway = middle school grades.

Joining efforts with PPS Summer Dreamers with All-City Sports Camps. AM + PM coordination.
City Sports AM + PM Summer Dreamers:
Carrick goes with Faison
PCA goes with PCA
Westinghouse goes with Faison
Oliver (and/or Ammon) goes to Langley
South Side stays in the afternoons too
Golf goes to golf sites.

Site Features:
PCA / Greenway
The PCA / Greenway site has a great, indoor 6-lane, 25 yard pool. Plus, a field with a cinder track is also on school grounds. Furthermore, there are tennis courts, a second practice field and hills. No other destinations are close for walking.
PCA is also called Pittsburgh Classical Academy, Greenway and the Gifted Center. All names are for the same campus.

Ammon Rec Center / Hill District
Ammon Rec is home to a summer camp from Ozanam. That group has a range of ages, but mostly elementary school. They have had a few weeks of swimming lessons with the lifeguards as instructors.
Ammon has a giant, great outdoor swim pool with four water polo goals. Ammon also has an indoor gym, indoor weight room, outdoor basketball courts, and a wonderful outdoor baseball field.
It would be possible to go from Ammon to the Carnegie Library on Centre Ave. and the Thelma Lovette YMCA. The Y partnership has an evening focus for game-days and swim meets once per week.

Oliver High School
Oliver High School has a regulation, rubber-surface, outdoor track in fair condition. Plus, Oliver has a big gym and a great 6 lane, 25 yard indoor swim pool.
Oliver is in the north part of the city and is near to North Allegheny High School. Some of our staff might be from north suburban locations. A mid-day camp might be better for those student athletes as they have training sessions themselves at North Park Swim Pool in the early mornings.
The Summer Dreamers sites do not include any location in the North, sadly.

There is a great 6 lane, 25 yard swim pool at Westinghouse. Out the pool doors and down the small hill is the football field with a cinder track too. Westinghouse also has a gym.
The Summer Dreamers from Faison could swim at Westinghouse, as it is not too far. Last year a bus was provided for the Faision kids. Going to the Highland Park Pool, Citiparks, outdoor and large, with beach volleyball courts, is possible. It is also not hard to get to the Bud Harris Cycle Oval on Washington Blvd.

South Side sites
The South Side location has a number of venues that can be put to use by the All City Sports Camp. The South Side Cupples Stadium, its turf, track, locker room, and outdoor basketball court. Only 2 blocks away is the indoor Oliver Bath House, a 9 lanes, 20 yard swim pool. The Oliver Bath House is a great instructional pool and fine for instruction and competitions for those in the younger and rookie stages. The Oliver Bath House is always closed to the public in the months of June, July and August, so it is wide open for our uses. Armstrong Park is 3 blocks away and has a grass field and a basketball court, plus bathroom facilities. The Market House has a nice indoor gym and kitchen. The River Trail and the steps of the South Side Slopes are close as well. River access exists for kayaks too. The UPMC Sports Medicine Center is more than a mile away, but along the trail.
It is possible for the South Side site to rotate the locations for check in: Monday at Market House. Tuesday at Track. Wednesday at the water of the Oliver Bath House, Thursday at Trail and Friday at the Field.

Carrick High School
Carrick might be the hardest to obtain because the principal and the custodian, Mike, have always been quick to say, 'No.' Use of Carrick would be wonderful. Carrick has a great swim pool and is next to a a Citipark facility, Phillips Park, with a disk golf course, gym and an outdoor swim pool. A field is near too, given a 5 minute walk. Carrick is a bus ride from Carmalt.
If Carrick can't be used, Brashear is an alternative.

Bob O'Connor Golf Course at Schenley Park
The 18 hole course and the First Tee of Pittsburgh program could be blended into the All City Sports Camps. This is to be negotiated.

Camper Capacity by site:
North: Oliver High School = 150 students
Central: South Side's Cupples Stadium = 250 students in AM + 250 in PM
Hill District: Ammon Rec Center, and Thelma Lovette YMCA = 100 students
West: PCA / Greenway = 75 students
South: Carrick High School = 100 students
East: Westinghouse High School = 150 students
GOLF: Schenley's Bob O'Connor Golf Course = 30 students
Total = 1,105 students

Income / Revenue
Sponsorships = $10,000
Athlete Pool Tags sold by Citiparks
$60 per kid x 1,000 = $60,000
$35 per kid (after Aug 1) x 30 = $1,050
$75 per adult x 100 = $7,500
Race Fees = $10,000
Gear Sales = $2,500
Total = $91,050

Staffing* costs are about 80% of the costs:
CEO and HQ staff = $10,000
6 x head coach = $3,000 each = $18,000
18 x assistant coach = $1,000 each = $18,000
18 x junior helpers = $600 each = $10,080
15 Lifeguard / Instructors = $1,200 each = $18,000
Total above = $65,080 in staffing
* The City of Pittsburgh has a youth job program budget for the summer of 2014 that equals $600,000.
Supplies are about 20% of the costs.

. - . - . - . - . - . -END of Enclosed proposal . - . - . - . - . - . -

Suggestion 5b: 
Reflection on Puzzle Pieces:
The landscape in the life of a city and its players includes different departments, organizations and activities. The illustration shows some of the entities that can be formed and cooperate.

Illustration not shown to scale, of course.

The new in 2014 elements include: PPS H2O (for year-round aquatics), All-City Sports Camps (summers in many sports) and Olympic Sports Division (school-year container for intramurals and sports cut from PPS Athletics: tennis, golf, swimming, etc.)
Glue, overlaps, oversight and management specifics still to be determined and negotiated.

Suggestion #6:
Use co-op sports agreements to save the swim teams at Carrick and Brashear.
The swim teams at Carrick and Brashear could be saved with creative cooperative sports agreements with two local Catholic high schools.
Seaton LaSalle High School swim team rents the pool at Brashear. Bishop Canevin rents the pool at Pittsburgh Classical (PCA). A sports cooperative agreement could be forged for swimming so Seaton LaSalle hooks up with Brashear and Bishop Canevin hooks its coop up with Carrick. With those coops, the PPS students who want to be varsity swimmers at those schools could still have a team to join. Practices would still be at their home school. The coaching staff and costs of officials could come from negotiations and private school sources. PPS can supply use of the pool space that otherwise would be sitting idle.
Coops are not ideal. But cutting programs are far worse. See footnote article: A cautionary tale, to hear how another school district in Ohio lost 103 students when sports were cut for only a few months.
The Carrick and Brashear teams would also benefit from support from PPS H2O. Money, program upgrades, year-round aquatic opportunities, hiring help and other organizational efforts are expected.
Example: OLSH (Our Lady of Sacred Heart) has a coop with Cornell in swimming. So, a private / Catholic school can form a coop with a public school.

Suggestion #7:
Allow for the North Allegheny squads to provide joint programs for students and citizens in the north, and put to use of the pools at Perry HS and Oliver HS.
The swim pools at Perry and Oliver can be utilized for practices with suburban swimmers that also blend in community programs for city citizens and students. These efforts can be managed with PPS H20 endeavors.
Perry students, and even those at CAPA too, could swim in the WPIAL meet as independents. One day, after PPS H20 is thriving, CAPA could field its own team and perhaps use Perry, Oliver or PCA its home pool.

Suggestion #8:
Westinghouse High School can be joined with the Homewood Children's Village Charter School.
The Homewood Children's Village (HCV) is a service organization that operates “wrap around services” that include after school programs and sports team sponsorships. The HCV charter school application is pending in 2014 and classes could begin as soon as fall 2014 for students in grades 6 and 7. The HCV charter school would grow through the years to span from grade 6 to 12.
Providing the HCV with pool access could benefit Westinghouse and PPS students. Other HCV aquatic plans are pending. The HCV could sponsor city-wide water polo teams.
In 2014, a Westinghouse Middle School swim team came to life, coached by Westinghouse teacher, Carl Goldman.
In 2013, more than 50 students in the 3rd grade at Faison swam as part of Summer Dreamers.
Water polo was played at Westinghouse in an after school program, once per week in 2011-12 school year.

Suggestion #9:
Diving could come into being at either Westinghouse or Perry.
The WPIAL and PIAA sponsors “swimming and diving” meets. Diving could happen at Westinghouse and/or Perry in the years to come after PPS H20 begins to thrive.

Suggestion #10:
PPS should work in political ways to legislate changes to the existing PIAA rules in terms of coop teams.
Coops allow school districts to be more creative with opportunities for students. However, co-ops are less than ideal.
The term “co-op” (also coop) is short for “cooperative sponsorship of a sport.” The outcome is an agreement among schools that allows teams to field squads of student-athletes from two or three schools. Coops are a trend in scholastic sports. Coop rules dictate that no more than 3 schools merge into one team. So, it would not be possible with the rules in place in 2014 to make a single coop team in any sport that involves students from all PPS high schools. To form one “all-star” quad-A team sounds like a great idea, but it is not permitted. Example: The Northgate School District has a swim pool and a swim team and students that go to Avalon High School are able to join Northgate's swim team.
Most suburban school districts have one high school. All the students from that one district attend one school and join one sports team. Pittsburgh Public Schools is one district but with many schools. Pittsburgh needs to have many teams as all the kids are spread among various schools.
The proposed Olympic Sports Department could take a long-term approach, and reason with, and lobby for adjustments to “coop” rules and opportunities with sports administrators within the PIAA and WPIAL.
For details, read PIAA By-Laws, ARTICLE III, ATTENDANCE, Section 11, Cooperative Sponsorship of a Sport deals with co-op(s). PIAA recognizes as separate high schools those schools recognized as separate high schools by the PA Department of Education.
Example: The first challenge with sports coop that should gain easy approval is in water polo. With the help of PPS and PPS H2O, a petition to the PIAA and water polo administration should enable a “Pittsburgh Combined” varsity water polo team that allow participation in the sport with students from any PPS schools. In an emerging sport such as water polo, and with willing competitors, getting approval for this new type of team and district coop framework is possible.
Example 2: Girls water polo could be easier to begin if it is a city-wide opportunity.
Example 3: Other district-wide sports teams might emerge in Bowling, Competitive Cheer, Triathlon and Cycling.

Suggestion #11:
PPS should work in political ways to establish better rules and opportunities in the classification realm within the PIAA and WPIAL.
More scholastic sports opportunities could be forthcoming if the PIAA and perhaps the WPIAL offered an additional classification that could better accommodate the novice / expansion / rookie / recreational / JV division. Options of having a “non-league” team at a school are possible, but scheduling makes seasonal planning extremely unlikely.
Coordinators from the PPS Olympic Sports Department could take a long-term view so as to approach, reason with, and lobby for adjustments to “classification” rules and opportunities with sports administrators within the PIAA and WPIAL.
Example: A Western PA Recreational Tennis Classification that plays four weekend tournaments might be able to get more kids in the region playing tennis and representing their schools. But 2, 3, or 4 kids don't make a full-fledged WPIAL sectional team. These JV leagues might be welcome in specific settings and the city, a hub for Western PA, should champion, instigate and organize these opportunities as many city students might feel more at home in this level of competition.
Example 2: The Ultimate Frisbee league and the Frisbee Golf league exist in Western PA. City kids and some city teams take part in those activities now. But more coordination would draw greater participation. Those efforts are beyond the scope of PPS Athletic Department but could be welcomed in the Olympic Sports Division.

Suggestion #12:
Consider excellence in each sport in each school in each teams. Then make the necessary cuts.
Contrasting experiences are huge and should not be ignored.
Example: The boy swimmers at Obama are defending section champions. Meanwhile, there have not been enough swimmers to make a relay at Perry or Westinghouse in years. Perhaps PPS needs to cut swimming at all schools so that swimming can be re-started at Obama and Allderdice?

Suggestion #13:
Make necessary cuts to sports teams after fully considering each team's competitive capacity for prospects of a meaningful season. So, Cut District 8 baseball.
The 2013 seasonal schedule for baseball in D8 schools, (Westinghouse, Perry, Obama) was bleak. Cut baseball at those schools. Keep baseball at Brashear, Carrick and Allderdice.
Baseball prospects that want a school season must attend Allderdice, Carrick and Brashear. Those will be the schools for those who seek to play baseball.
Otherwise, kids could play baseball and softball within the All-City Sport Camps. Summer training for pitchers, catchers can occur for all students regardless if they attend a school that offers baseball or not. Off season games with mixed teams can be organized too. Our city kids can play on a combined team against WPIAL squads in the fall, at events that we control and instigate.
That state of softball and other sports are unsure and no position is taken here.

Suggestion #14:
Cut the PPS sports teams that cost the most per student.
Think again. Isn't football expensive?
All the sports budgets could be put online and open for anyone to see.
The cost for students could calculate brain damage risks too.

Suggestion #15:
Cut coops students out of teams if they require daily busing to practices.
True transportation costs and transportation burdens need to be considered in detail. Return to the policy that provide PPS athletes with PAT bus passes. Perhaps monthly bus passes are going to return and more high school students will get them. That move could help sports participation and other school activities. PAT Bus passes might reduce costs to PPS.
Example 1: Eliminate the need for the Sci-Tech and U-Prep students to go to Obama every day for practice in basketball, swimming, volleyball.
In football the Obama kids need to go to U-Prep. End football at Obama. Those students who want to play football should go to U-Prep, Allderdice or some other school with a local football team.
If the district had enough money, it would be better to have U-Prep have a football team and Obama have its own, different football team. But these efforts are about cuts, sadly, and not expansion of costly sports.
In basketball, it would be better for participation and cheaper for PPS to establish new varsity teams (boys and girls) at U-Prep + Sci-Tech and have Obama play without the coop. The costs of daily coaching has to be less than daily busing. U-Prep kids can walk to Sci-Tech.
U-Prep does not have a decent gym. It was built to be a middle school. However, the Sci-Tech does have a nice gym. And, a gym exists at Ammon Rec Center and at West Penn Recreation Center as well. Games could be played there. But Sci-Tech would be the best location.
The sold Schenley High School facilities are still missed.

Suggestion #16:
Strengthen golf at Allderdice in the short term. Partner with First Tee of Pittsburgh for everyone else.
Rather than cutting golf everywhere, make a new golf team coop so that the kids that have been playing golf from Sci-Tech and Obama can be part of the Allderdice golf team that competes in the WPIAL.
A city-wide JV golf team could be managed by the First Tee of Pittsburgh.
Golfers in the Allderdice coop from Sci-Tech and Obama should manage daily transportation without any PPS expenses. Golfers could be given a PAT bus pass or else they would need to find their own transportation.
If every golf team is cut, golf could be moved into the proposed Olympic Sports Division and managed in a partnership with The First Tee of Pittsburgh.
Golf has been a growing activity with PPS Physical Education classes. Furthermore, golf was put into the activity offerings with PPS Summer Dreamers. There are professional golf events coming to Pittsburgh in the seasons to come. Western Pennsylvania has a great golf infrastructure.
In the fall of 2013, three PPS students were able to golf in a PIAA qualification match. Joe from Perry High School was the only boy freshman to qualify in the western part of the state. The golfers from Allderdice have always been competitive and Sasha, a junior, played at the PIAA finals and went to a national golf event with First Tee and played at Pebble Beach.
Obama, Carrick and Brashear play District 8 golf and Allderdice is in the WPIAL. The D8 season was more of a developmental league, but the participants had a nice season. The D8 golfers could have a JV type season as part of First Tee of Pittsburgh.
County-wide “speed golf tournaments” could help to raise money for the First Tee membership for PPS students each year. The membership price is nominal. The value of the golf at Bob O'Connor course and support provided there is un-matched in any sport.

Suggestion #17:
If cuts must come, phase out restrictions. Honor immediate coops options for those already on teams today.
For example, if a specific sport within a coop is made to be no longer an option for students at one school, diminish it. Allow those on the team to continue. But, prevent new 9th grade students from joining.
Example 1: If golf is removed as an option for the Obama students due to the costs, then an immediate coop with Allderdice is prudent for existing golfers.
Example 2: If football is removed as an option for the Obama students due to the costs of the coop, allow the ones in grades 10, 11 and 12 as of 2014 to continue to play football with U-Prep if they get their own transportation beyond central PPS budget payments. Then in 2015, only those in 11 and 12 get to be on the coop team. In 2016, only 12 grade participants could be on that team.
Otherwise, if players are forced to transfer out of a school because of cuts, they might transfer out of PPS to Woodland Hills or some other non PPS school.

Suggestion #18:
Allow athletes in PPS to ignore “feeder patterns” if they compete on that school's sports team.
PPS feeder patterns could be made fully irrelevant in the case of varsity athletes. Feeder patterns for high schools have been fading away throughout the PPS district. Geographic borders are archaic, exclude and subtract. Winning comes with addition.
As more charters are established, and as these charters are regionally attractive and with established sports teams, the feeder patterns become muddy. Enrollment becomes important without a hint of feeder patterns.
Example: If a student in the Carrick feeder pattern wants to be varsity swimmer, and if the Carrick swim team is eliminated, yet Allderdice and Obama continue to offer swim teams, then allow the student with a Carrick address the ability to attend either Allderdice or Obama as long as he or she stays in good standing with that team and school.
Ignoring feeder patterns for students should occur only one time in that person's high school tenure. Or, perhaps only those in 9th grade get a pass to another school for sports participation while those in 10th, 11th and 12th are not granted those enrollment / transfer rights.
Home schooled students that live within the district should be able to pick their own sports school at 9th grade or when he or she does a school sport / activity try out. That school would be that person's school of choice and count on the enrollment forms for PIAA classifications.
PPS Cyber School students should be able to pick their own school too.
PPS CAPA School students in sports not offered by CAPA (see other suggestion) should be able to pick their own sports school too.

Suggestion #19:
Provide Physical Education credits to athletes.
One fewer class-period per day for high school students is a possible cost-saving measure said Superintendent Lane at her State of the District speech on December 4, 2013. With one fewer period per day, every period becomes more valuable for scholars.
High school physical education classes allow 45 students for one teacher. The 45:1 student to teacher ratio can be improved upon by giving Physical Education credit to athletes involved in sports teams. Getting smaller class sizes, saving money and allowing more academic options (i.e. AP courses) are benefits. Better supervision and instruction in PE periods would follow for the non-athlete students once those PE class periods occur without the athletes. Better experiences for those who remain is another benefit. Furthermore, students get additional external motivation for commitment to sports teams.
Log books, reflective journals, letters of recommendations, service hours teaching youth sports and other educational enrichment activities should be part of the duties for those seeking PE credit from outside sports and wellness participation. Mobile apps can be created to log student attendance at practices.
Example: In past years, swimmers on the Obama team arrived to school for 6 am to 7:15 swim practice. Then they get out of the pool, change into school clothes, attend home room for 5 minutes. Then comes first period physical education class, starting at 7:45 am, and the students swim again. Swimming in the PE class is at such an easy level that the period is a waste of time and space. It would be better to have the swimmers take an extra AP course in first period and not be a burden to the PE teachers and other PE students. A study hall would be better use of time in most cases. PE swimming for a swim team member is far from ideal.

Suggestion #20:
Give physical education and health credits to students who participate in the All-City Sports Camp.
Another way to save PPS money and still get kids the needed credits to graduate is to allow students a chance to get Physical Education credit at the All-City Sports Camp. Rather than hiring P.E. teachers who baby-sit make-up courses, lets put these PE teachers in more meaningful roles with a more dynamic camp experience that also serves as class credit.
The All-City Sports Camp is going to be three hours per day on average and happen for more than 100 days. A program for credit for health and physical education is possible within those efforts.

Suggestion #21:
Remove Sports Coaches from the scope of the PFT Contract.
The collective bargaining agreement between the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers (PFT) and PPS for coaching contracts needs to end.
Example: When John Thompson was Superintendent of PPS, he promised that coaches would not be part of the contract. That key to sport reform efforts in the distant past was a promise not kept.
Many other school districts have coaching guidelines with pay and duties but the full scope of all coaching contracts are not not part of the bargaining unit.
Coaching positions need to be more flexible so kids are better served. Some teams might need assistant coaches while others teams don't. Some schools might want to switch sports. Some teams need to be eliminated. Some positions might need to be split to a couple of days per week among different individuals. Playoff pay, coaching credentials, and other more modern management practices should be part of an overhaul, but the union contract can't tolerate any changes to individual situations.
Example: At Obama, the contract calls for four coaches in swimming: HS Boys, HS Girls, MS Boys and MS Girls. It would be much better to have one person with head coach duties and aquatic director management devotion and three assistant coaches.
Example: The golf coach at Allderdice (in the WPIAL) does far more work than the golf coach at Brashear (not in WPIAL).
All coach contracts within the proposed Olympic Sports Division, PPS H2O and All-City Sports Camp need to be outside of the realm of the teachers contract.
Example: Coaches that do not teach within PPS do not get any help from the PFT.

Suggestion #22:
Eliminate PFT contract provisions concerning the 20:1 ratio for activity providers with PPS Summer Dreamers. Staff at Swim & Water Polo Camp at Summer Dreamers does not need to include more than 1 teacher.
How money is spent needs to be a concern in terms of the program's needs and outcomes. Five fewer PPS teachers would yield 20 additional hired college/high school swimmers. Then, 200 additional kids could be better motivated and supervised in our camps. Efficiency matters more than PPS contracts in our fun, running, high-splash efforts. Employee expnses account for up to 80% of the costs of Swim & Water Polo Camps. So, the jobs are critical.
Activity partners at PPS Summer Dreamers Academy are assigned one PPS teacher for every 20 students. The PPS teacher gets paid contract rates. This is expensive. Perhaps the Summer Dreamers budget could expand to handle an increase in the number of students by and additional 60% if the PPS teachers were excluded from activity times. Sure, PPS teachers at PPS rates should be hired and placed within the classrooms teaching academic materials. In certain areas, PPS teachers are a tremendous value, but in some instances, not so much.
PPS teachers would be eligible for the activity jobs. And, PPS teachers should be paid, if hired, at the PPS teacher rate. The same applies to the proposed All-City Sports Camps.
Example: In the past five years of doing PPS Summer Dreamers activities, it is my humble opinion that in some situations it would be better for the overall camp and the limited funding dollars to hire four young adults (of high school and college age) for running, swimming and playing water polo rather than one idle and passive PPS teacher. Without a doubt, some great PPS teachers have joined our ranks every year. They would and should continue. But the hard rule for 20:1 for PPS teachers is a serious burden when scale of the camp climbs above 200 to 400 students. To motivate and manage 20 PPS teachers at the pools, yet along find that many interested in running and swimming in the heat of the summer afternoon becomes a crazy deal-stopper due to over-reaching contract interpretation.
Rather than a 1:20 ratio, a 1:60 would be plenty. That's 1 PPS teacher to 60 campers. Meanwhile, the overall coach to camper ratio is closer to 1:6. By cutting 3 PPS teachers we gain a dozen youthful helpers. Those are significant adjustments for the long-term sustainability of summer-time activities.
Better to hire high school students and recent PPS graduates to help teach other younger students. We should deploy the opportunities for Summer Dreamers as a work-enrichment opportunity for meaningful jobs to the youth rather than be required to hire PPS teachers who are not engaged and are there only to punch more expensive time clocks.
Many of the PPS teachers are great. Some are not.

Suggestion #23:
Give sports coaches the ability to accept home room duties for athletes.
Having athletes check in with their coaches every day for home room could be valuable for many reasons. Give more mentoring, training discussions, better relationships, stretching, college recruiting discussions, and time to track those PE credits for sports participation efforts.
Example: The 6 am swim practice could be extended an additional 30 minutes if the swimmers on the team had pool time instead of home room time.

Suggestion #24:
Athletes at CAPA, but also at Sci-Tech, would be in better situations if those schools had PIAA and WPIAL memberships. Allow kids to represent their schools, even as independents.
A CAPA student should compete and represent CAPA. Same with Sci-Tech students. Especially in individual sports, those athletes could be independent participants playing tennis, swimming in meets, doing golf, racing Cross-Country.
Example: A CAPA swimmer shouldn't need to representing Westinghouse because of feeder patterns. Rather, a CAPA swimmer should be able to step into the WPIAL meet after qualification times were achieved much like a Winchester Thurston student can. Neither CAPA nor WT have full swim teams.

Suggestion #25:
Open the “Olympic Sports Division” to take the place of PPS Intramurals.
A new PPS joint-venture and partnership devoted to Olympic and Lifetime Sports, the Olympic Sports Division, can come to fill the void that occurs with the loss of intramurals. The Olympic Sports Division can be set apart in the budget from the PPS Athletic Department.
PPS Athletics handles the management of football, basketball, soccer and volleyball. PPS Athletics handles the various WPIAL sports teams too.
Meanwhile, this new entity, the Olympic Sport Division, facilitates the management, evaluation, development and finances for the sports of: Swimming, Golf, Tennis, X-Country, Track, Water Polo, Cycling, Triathlon, and Ultimate Frisbee.
Activities for Ice Hockey, Rugby, Bowling, Fencing, Weightlifting, Table Tennis, Diving, Kayak, Crew, Judo and Skiing are a few of the options that should be quickly examined and evaluated. The Olympic Sports Division can consider other partnerships and associations.
In due time, as the Olympic Sports Division takes root, a Community Congress would set policies in a democratic process. Sports participation can be driven by citizens, student desires, Citiparks, market opportunities, sponsors, and operate beyond the nay-sayers and lazy.
Rather than cut 100% of the costs of certain sports out of the PPS budget, put some of that money into a “seed fund” for the Olympic Sports Division. Then expect the Olympic Sports Division to sustain itself. The Olympic Sports Division can be a PPS cost cutting measure.
Outcome: To trim the PPS infrastructure in athletics to football, basketball, volleyball and other key teams in certain sports allows for the birth of the Olympic Sports Division. One day, more sports, more participation, and more people will want to stay in the city.
Some goals for the Olympic Sports Division to negotiate include: paid permits for special events, shared student data, distance coaching, tech advances, PE credit, and booster groups in every school with team and activity web sites, season ticket plans, media guides and junior lessons for younger kids taught by supervised high school athletes.
Example 1: The proposed Olympic Sport Division would have PPS cooperation but be more independent and much like a college sports athletic department that operates as a subsidiary.
Example 2: The Pittsburgh Promise is an organization with a special relationship to PPS. Likewise, Pittsburgh needs an overlap of cooperation in sports and fitness among the city, schools, rec departments and others, including sports foundations.
Example 3: In small municipalities, Rec Departments and local schools constantly overlap in caring for their children and facilities. However, in those smaller townships,the cooperation generally includes one to three people. In Pittsburgh, with so many schools and neighborhoods, the overlap is handled by hundreds of people.
Example 4: CAPA has a Saturday music enrichment program for the whole city. (It was once called CENTERS.) Presently, the River City Brass Band is a sponsor. The effort helps to train young musicians. The Olympic Sports Division can train athletes like Centers trains musicians. But various days and various settings are required in sports.

Suggestion #26:
Remove the enrollment ceiling for Swim & Water Polo Camp as it is a most popular option within Summer Dreamers.
In the 2013 sign-up process for Summer Dreamers, Swim & Water Polo Camp was the most popular first-choice activity option selected by the kids and families of pending participants. Swim & Water Polo Camp enrollment was slated to have 130 slots and more than 260 had made it a first choice. The demand was sky-high. The capacity was increased, thankfully. But furthermore, only the kids in grades 3 and grades 8 were even able to select Swim & Water Polo as an option. The kids in grades 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9 did not have a Swim & Water Polo as a choice.
None should be forced to swim. But, all who want to sign up for swimming as a first choice, regardless of grade, should be accommodated as space allows. Swimming can be expanded in many instances.
The PPS board should recognize that swimming is a life-saving activity. Swimming is perfect for summer school. If swimming is getting dropped as a varsity sport, swimming needs to be fully supported in the summer when kids want to swim the most.
Finally, those who had a great experience with Swim & Water Polo in past summers should be able to advance their aquatic experiences in future summers, gaining fitness and skills.

Suggestion #27:
Insure future school sites for Summer Dreamers are ones with swimming pools.
PPS has school buildings with both air-conditioning and swimming pools that are not being used for Summer Dreamers. Westinghouse, Obama, Allderdice, Brashear, Carrick, Oliver, Perry, U-Prep are off the list for the 2014 sites.
Let's stretch efficiency with student time by swimming in the same building as academic classes. Summer Dreamers at PCA and Obama in past years, with the swim pool is down the hall from classrooms, was fantastic. Carmalt and Faison are fine schools, but the kids who swim need to take 4 bus rides a day because there isn't a pool at that school. Kids still love Swim & Water Polo regardless.
The board and superintendent need to communicate to school staffs and principals that school buildings are public assets to be utilized by students throughout the summer. Buff floors on nights and weekends if necessary.

Suggestion #28:
PPS needs more focus on the “end games” with sports. College Sports Scholarships matter.
In sports, there are a number of “end games.” These long-term, monumental, accomplishments ignite motivational fires within kids and communities. All star teams, championships and college recruiting, college sports participation and college scholarships matter.
College sports and talent scholarships should be more pervasive motivators for our youth. Getting a “free ride” pays for tuition, room and board. Plus, college athletes get plenty of instant friends in their teammates. Furthermore, college athletes get to enjoy plenty of time playing their sport. Sports scholarship can take students beyond the borders of Pennsylvania, unlike the Pittsburgh Promise scholarships.
Position: More than $1-million per year is lost by PPS students because few are able to capitalize upon sports scholarships.
The stars and captains on every team and in every sport have NCAA and NAIA opportunities to address. Sadly, too few PPS teams have players benefiting from collegiate-sport scholarships and the recruiting process. Exceptions exist, of course. A tenfold increase could happen if PPS could focus more on the “end game” with its sports programs.
One can't be serious about a college sports scholarship years into the future when short-term trouble fills the vision. Is there practice today? Is there a game next week? Who is going to open the weight room? Who is the coach next season? Is my school going to close? What kind of competition was that? Where do we have training camp in the summers?
PPS needs stability, talent identification, enrichment, honesty and leadership that cares by going to the kids and families to put sports into perspective with clarity. Forming an Olympic Sports Division within PPS to train athletes with a long-term approach, increasing aerobic capacity, measuring growth and striving for scholarships while being rooted in the city would be a monumental change.
Example: In the recent years, those with talent in PPS have been advised to pack-up and move out of the city and attend a school in the WPIAL that gives better hope and has a viable program where dreams of a college-scholarship happen with regularity.
Example, as a swim coach at Plum High School, my conservative claim (and it held true) was for the ongoing delivery of $200,000 in college scholarships for Plum swimmers.
One school in one sport can capture, on average, $200,000 per year if each graduation class averages $50,000 in college / talent scholarships. Math: Two full scholarships of $15,000 per year (1 boy + 1 girl captain) and second captains gains partial scholarships with a value of $10,000 per year. The sum for that class is $50,000. Over the four years, the sum is $200,000.
All the students on all the teams are better suited for college because of their scholastic sports participation. The student athletes, even those who were not starters on their high school teams, get an awareness that better prepares them for college life. Athletes have a more productive experience after their high school sports days. Sports help get students “promise ready.”
Summary: With a quality, year-round aquatics program, our students get to perform at the highest levels in the region and state. With top teams, scholarships are certain. Without the necessary administrative support these scholarships are lost. If this 2014 crisis is turned into an opportunity, and reform measures are made across schools and among various teams, PPS student athletes could earn millions of dollars in college sports-and-talent scholarships.

Suggestion #29:
Tennis is a cheap lifetime sport that can expand.
In high school tennis, there is not even a need to play officials. Tennis has Venus Williams. Public tennis courts are throughout the city. Some need some care, but it would not be too hard to get the courts at U-Prep and CAPA (North Side's Sue Murray) functional with a push from Citiparks. Citiparks can conduct year-round tennis clinics. Community support can be found for tennis too.
Start tennis at CAPA.
Start tennis at U-Prep with Sci-Tech (walking coop).
Get Obama out of its USO coop and have players walk to Highland Park courts or play at the Seminary courts.
Play boys and girls both in the fall and spring so tennis is more of a year-round opportunity for every athlete. Play and host mixed doubles scholastic tournaments in the city and be unique.
If tennis is cut by the PPS Board, tennis could be a part of the Olympic Sports Division and plenty of opportunities can be crafted for tennis players at our schools.

Suggestion #30:
The administration's threat of ending a sport is nearly as terrible as cutting that sport. Slow starvation should be avoided.
If the PPS Board decides to follow the suggestions from Dr. Lane, and if the board intends to swing the budget ax without haste, then announce the cuts to the sports and programs as soon as possible. Immediacy of discussion is needed and desired.
Students, coaches and families don't want to be aboard a sinking ship. The damages to the swim program in the wake of the announcements from Dr. Lane on December 4, 2013, have been severe. To say a team might be cut is a scare tactic that works. Few are going to devote themselves to something that is going to be eliminated.
If programs are cut, PIAA rules allow the students to depart their present school and enroll in another school without penalty.
Example: A sophomore golfer could move out of Obama if golf is cut. That golfer gets to participate in golf right away while attending another school. Obama Academy's, 12 golfers, 30 swimmers and 20 tennis players could depart PPS and continue their education and athletic careers at Shaler, North Allegheny, Woodland Hills, etc. Who knows if a dozen or more kids will depart Obama and Sci-Tech or not.

Suggestion #31:
Getting high school athletes onto college campus and into games with college and adult players can be pervasive with PPS H20, the Olympic Sports Division and the All-City Sports Camps.
PPS students won't miss high school sports as much if they are competing in community and college sports. Greater coordination is needed to make these experiences a priority.
Example 1: The Eastern Collegiate Cycling Conference (ECCC) now incorporates high school students into its races. Previously juniors (high school students) were required to race for teams that held USA Cycling High School club licenses, and there are none in PPS. New for 2014, full time high school students are permitted to race in the ECCC with simply a USAC Juniors license. They get to compete as an integral part of the collegiate field. There are 25 high quality juniors races throughout the northeast US in in March and April including feature road races, downtown crits, team time trials, hill climbs and individual time trials.
Cycling has been a Summer Dreamers activity for PPS students for many years.
A number of great young cyclists, local companies, support institutions and facilities are in Pittsburgh.
Example 2: In water polo, the USA Olympic Development Program and Masters Tournaments are open to high school students.
Grant Rauterkus, Obama 10th grader, played a 3-day tournament, January 17-19, 2014, at Penn State University and his team, the Hawks, beat Penn State, Penn State Alumni, VMI (Virginia Military), and Johns Hopkins. In 2013, Grant played games against Ohio State, Notre Dame, ARMY, CMU, Pitt, Grove City, Ball State, Cincinnati, and W&J.
USA Water Polo's ODP program has competitions by school grades. His team of 9th and 10th graders in the Northeast Zone has players from Andover Prep (MA), Greenwich (CT), and Annapolis, (MD). He gets to travel to Dallas to play other zone teams from around the nation this spring. Last year the competition was in Las Vegas.
Swim and Water Polo Camps have been a part of PPS Summer Dreamers for five years.
Example 3: In the sport of Triathlon at the Club National Championships at Myrtle Beach, SC, in October 2012, a PPS high school athlete competed in the elite division Triathlon getting third. In the summer of 2013, a Mt. Lebanon high school athlete competed with the USA Triathlon team in the United Kingdom. He is a high school swimmer this season again. In the July 2013, at recent North Allegheny graduate went to Brazil for a Triathlon with Team USA.
Example 4: In the May 2013 Pittsburgh Marathon, Sam Lapp, a swimmer, soccer player and IB music student from Obama competed the race. In 2012 he did the half in 1:42. In 2013 he finished in 3:28. He runs now for the club team at Penn State.
Example 5: In the city's first Liberty Mile, August 2012, a PPS student and staff member for the Swim & Water Polo Camp won the Just for Fun race. In the past two years, 70+ participants from Summer Dreamers competed and more than five got medals for their age group finishes.

Suggestion #32:
Let's gladly welcome college and community participants who want to visit, compete and showcase skills at PPS sites.
Plenty of opportunities to host college and community teams and individuals are present and are desired. Sadly, too often the PPS policy has been to only allow students from a single school to be a part of the sports happenings so as to exclude others, few exceptions. Sports are social efforts where playing well with others needs to be rewarded, tolerated and promoted.
With PPS H2O and the Olympic Sports Division, plus with the All-City Sports Camps, athletes, coaches, and boosters should come together frequently in meaningful ways.
Example 1: Chatham University's women's water polo team practiced at Westinghouse in the past due to a temporary pool issue on campus.
Example 2: The Ohio State University men's swim team practiced at Plum High School as my team suspended its workout and heard from the Buckeye coach on a Saturday morning. The high school kids were in awe. Ohio State's team did their warm up swim and then went down to beat Pitt in a meet that afternoon.

Suggestion #33:
Begin an annual PPS Sports Affinity Card.
Community support for PPS sports can build if PPS sports promotes itself. The Olympic Sports Division, PPS H20, All-City Sports Camp, Summer Dreamers and overall PPS Athletics can work in harmony with Citiparks and drive consumer connections with citizen customers and donors. Efforts at marketing with new ventures are always better received.
Larger efforts could plan seeds for other projects too, such as S6, a sports-lecture series. Crowdsource funding from Kickstarter are possible as well.

Suggestion #34a:
Honesty and transparency is past due with my swim-specific and systemic concerns. We are blundering basic program needs such as budgets, boosters and building conditions.
Budgets, boosters, and building conditions are basics survival needs for programs to thrive. The basics glue programs together. They can't be ignored. Power comes to the organized and planned.
As budgets for the sponsoring organizations are tight, more cooperation and more discussion is needed. Additionally, as budgets are tight for the participants and their families, more awareness, planning and thrift is called for. Many of the PPS students can't afford costly club dues, association memberships, personal trainers nor regional and national travel to competitions. These staples of sports are more common in the more affluent communities. In Pittsburgh, we have to work harder and communicate more deeply so wiser decisions can be deployed. We can't waste nor miss-spend any resource as all are precious. Especially our kids.
Example: PPS stopped holding its preseason coaches meetings.
Example: The global, on-going frustrations with a lack of communications among important decision makers in PPS are too many to list.

Suggestion #34b:
Every sports team needs a published budget. At the end of the season, each budget should have a final report. All can be documented online. Audits can be made public.
I've coached since 1976 at many different settings and a budget has always been associated with those teams elsewhere. In the eight sports teams/seasons I've coached in PPS, I've never seen budget.
Example: In other setting, teams always have budgets.

Suggestion #34c:
Formalized, sports booster groups should open throughout the city.
Accountability with every booster group is expected. Every group could have its own bank account, but better would be group line items in a universal, transparent trust account. Each booster group for every sports team should have its own budget line items for booster activities. Plus, every sports team needs its own operational budget line items that is different from the boosters.
Example 1: The Obama High School swim boosters manage the swim banquet and help with a few fun events throughout the season. The boosters have no meetings, no officers, no board, no budget nor bank account.
Example 2: In the fall of 2013, the new athletic coordinator at Obama (L.S.) asked me to gather the parents / boosters and begin to raise money for the school's athletic efforts. The request was a non-starter. Parents and boosters won't raise money for a team when the superintendent talks about cutting that team. Furthermore, initial money for the team should come through student labor and the offering of Saturday Swim Schools / swim lessons. Sadly, the pool is closed to the school's swim teams on Saturdays. The desire for swim practices, yet alone a city-wide swim lessons on Saturdays are just a dream so far.
Example 3: Gender equity among boosters made heated discussions with the prior reform task force members.

Suggestion #34d:
Basic building blocks are broken. Peek at this list Festivus-like list of grievances.
Many support elements for coaches and teams are absent. Requests were brought to the superintendent in November 2012 and again in October 2013. Links to letters can be made public. The good news is that many elements cost less than $1 to supply, but the bad news is that they have yet to be delivered by PPS.

Nominal cost basics that are missing or not accessible, yet repeatedly requested:
Keys should be given to coaches.
PPS IDs should be provided for coaches. email address should be provided to every coach.
Wi-fi for tech devices (BYOD = bring your own device) should be provided for coaches.
Passwords to intranets should be presented to coaches.
Cooperation for obtaining coaches re-certification from the American Red Cross should be present for swim coaches (WSI).

Basic mid-sized items that are missing or not accessible, yet repeatedly requested:
Coaches need access to ice machine(s) at all times.
Coaches need an office, even shared office space with a desk, file drawer and storage locker is needed,
Handy access to an AED around the pool and gym is needed.
Record boards, signage, legacy graphics are needed.
White boards, chalk boards and bulletin boards are needed.
Storage cabinets for training devices and event hardware are needed.
Internet ports for streaming video of events are needed.
Computers that can load sport-specific software (admin bypass foils) are needed.
Paid event (swim meet) support personnel (announcer, timing operator, computer operator) are needed. These folks are present and paid for basketball games.
Set of stop watches, clipboards and t-shirts for volunteer meet timers are needed.
Comfort items that are missing and not requested before:
laundry use,
team lockers,
team locker room,
team classroom.

It would be great if the swimmers got towels at the pool so they'd not need to have wet gear with them in their school lockers nor have freezing laundry in trunks of cars. The varsity swimmers have not asked for towel services at Obama. Other PPS schools do get towels for those in the pool, even for physical education classes. About 10 years ago, pool matrons, a worker at every school with a pool who took care of towel and suit washing, were terminated.
Requests for laundry of swim towels have been made in the summers given the different population of Summer Dreamers. One PPS Summer Dreamers site, CAPA, was able to get clean towels for the kids. Otherwise, coaches do laundry at their homes on a daily basis in the summers.
Some sports teams make continual use of laundry services for the games and practice uniforms.
Recent victories: In 2013-14, a new bulletin board was put on the wall at the pool at Obama. Furthermore, the lights over the pool are turned on at practices.

Suggestion #34e:
Before being brave and bold, be beautiful.
Obama's swim uniform recap: No meet suits, practice swim suits, warm ups, and other training equipment have been purchased for the Obama swim team by PPS in the past two years. That's prudent. Our eyes were craving a purple and silver eagle with dye-sub design. Perhaps new suits and gear should have been purchased, but PPS saved the money. In 2012-13, the Obama varsity team got new purple eagle swim caps, costing less than $500. The remaining few are still being used again in 2013-14. In 2013-14, nothing was purchased, yet.
Some of the reasons for not buying swim suits for the Obama team with PPS funds comes with the past expectation that the suits would need to be returned at the end of the year and redistributed the following year. Swim suits don't last for 4 years. The life of a typical swim suit is about 4 months. The swim season calls for about 100+ uses. Other team uniforms, for example golf shirts, are heavy duty and are different. Other sports have uniforms that can be passed out year-to-year. That is not the case for Lycra swim suits.
Scholastic swimmers should get, each year:
- nylon practice suit
- a competitive swim suit, Lycra, for meets
- 3 pair of goggles
- 2 (for guys) or 5 (for girls) latex swim caps
- 1 clean towel after each practice and meet
- over-sized pool locker, lock in a team area
- quick-dry cover up shirt
- pair of shorts
- sweat suit (pants / top) * return each year
- over sized swim bag * return each year
- surgical tubing (some are called Stretchies, other might know this as Thera Bands).

Every year, the team / program should get some replacement training equipment, paddles, fins and software. Bigger items, perhaps a video camera, pace clock can be rotated through the years as needed. The school should get one new piece of strength equipment every year.

Suggestion #34f:
The swim pool is an ideal learning laboratory for developing individual and group excellence. Bodies and brains can transform themselves if the building is a worthy and able to absorb such energy and time.
In 2012-13, with the Obama school's move into Peabody's pool, PPS did need to purchase new starting blocks and a Daktronics timing system with touchpads and a six-lane scoreboard, total costs about $40,000. Those great investments should last 10 years.
Two years prior to the move to Peabody, a business plans with suggested correspondence, budget, equipment list and an overall grant application framework including a list of potential funding agencies was sent to PPS administration from a student as part of that student's LTP (long-term project). The student had high expectations that the capital costs of the scoreboards and other equipment enhancements would be funded by outside sources. The student would have advanced those efforts into the marketplace with plenty of advance time before the move so the items could have been secured. But the snag was that a PPS administrators were never did the follow up and give approval to the student to advance the effort to the marketplace. Oh well. Money wasn't the issue. Administrative cooperation was.
To this day, the red-and-black Schenley backstroke flags and lane lines are in use at Obama.
Example: The layout of the facility is not ADA compliant. The locker and bathroom facilities are downstairs.
Example: Entry and exiting of the pool area could occur be greatly improved with use of the side door that leads to the sidewalk. A few lights, a new vestibule and the entry to the pool from outside, without needing to go through the school's front doors would help greatly, especially at 6 am practices. Those doors could be secured in school hours. But getting pool patrons into and out of the pool area for community programs would make sense.
Example: I requested a “walk-through” of the Peabody pool area with PPS the building manager. We are still waiting.

Suggestion #35:
PPS should continue to sponsor its WPIAL swim teams, Obama and Allderdice.
Going above and beyond happens with the Obama Swimmers. Sign of progress: For the past 4 years, our swimmers (Schenley then Obama) got to compete at the PIAA state championships.
Both States and WPIALs, makes life-long memories and great educational experiences with a modest cost to PPS. In 2013, our boys relay teams just missed (by less than half a second) in making it to states in two events in relays that swam faster than any relays in PPS history. The motivation has been significant. Both the boys and girls were able to attend the 2013 WPIAL AA championships and perform beyond expectations.
PPS pays for food and lodging for the coach and swimmers at States. I drove my own car the past few years and didn't seeking gas money nor mileage reimbursement.
With the 2012-13 move of two swim teams (Obama and Allderdice) to the WPIAL, fewer PPS swimmers are going to attend state meets. This is an expected savings for PPS. Bigger savings reside in the fact that PPS / District 8 no longer has a championship meet with pool rental and officials' fees. Those ongoing costs are gone.
In 2014, swimmers from Brashear, Carrick and CAPA (via WHS feeder pattern) will need to attend a different sectional meet, not the WPIAL meet at Pitt, nor the discontinued D8 meet. The travel for that meet, in State College, is an extra expense. Only 2 swimmers, one boy and one girl, are expected to attend in 2014. These position paper plans calling for coops means all the local kids that qualify go to the WPIAL meet.

Suggestions #36:
PPS should keep funding sports teams with well managed game schedules.
Generally, swimming has fewer competitions than most other sports. Basketball might have 20 games for boys, 20 for girls, 15 for JV boys and 15 for JV girls. That is, on average, 70 games for basketball to swimming's 15 at one high school.
Varsity swimming teams need 10 meets to qualify for PIAA Championships. A season of 12 to 15 meets is ideal. It is better to have quality meets. Meets among city swim teams are desired.
Football in Pennsylvania is too long. The state championships is played later than any other state. A kid who plays every game for a team going to Hershey plays in more games than a NCAA Division I player.

Suggestions #37:
PPS should value sports where boys and girls can train and compete together.
A prime lesson of sports is learning how to play well with others, and having boys and girls together in sport is fantastic. Boys and girls get to be together in athletic settings in swimming, golf, cross country and track. Tennis plays at different seasons, but tennis has mixed doubles elsewhere.
Varsity swimming teams do appeal to both boys and girls. The training and competition events are held in the same places and at the same times. Life is co-ed. Much of swimming is too. The top girl swimmers in the city can beat the boys. Fine. I am an advocate for blended team experiences.
Varsity golf can be co-ed too. Likewise, in tennis, boys and girls can practice together. Track and Cross Country are also able to be blended among boys and girls for practices.
Of course, boys and girls both play basketball and volleyball. But those squads are always their own clique with different practices and games, if not seasons.
Water polo is a sport that is often played in a co-ed fashion, with boys and girls on the same team. When different boys and girls teams are established, they generally practice at the same times and often travel to the same tournaments as a unit.
A philosophical mistake might plague PPS if it chooses to support sports teams with segregated genders. Olympic sports and aquatic sports have a blended gender framework. That distinction of supporting sports opportunities and intramurals that appeal equally to ban accommodate both boys and girls is something that administrators and courts should care to notice.

Sport Boys & Girls Mingle Separation of Genders Position Paper Advancements here
Swimming Same season, same meets and same practice schedule.

Different heats of same races. Seeking unified head coach for both boys and girls squads with assistants.
Desire blended teams.
In the future, “Adam & Eve Events” could be established in PPS H20 as an exhibition / invite.
Water polo Often true co-ed teams with girls and boys as equals.
Same season, mostly same tournaments, same practice schedule.
Larger programs have both boys and girls teams, not
Younger kids playing water polo are almost always together.
Boys and girls are always blended at Sports & Water Polo Camps and All-City Sports Camps.
Golf Same course, time, season, practice schedule and matches. Often girls right in with boys. Different tee locations. Obama boy golfers played against the Brentwood girl golfers in 2013.

Boys in spring and girls in fall. Possible Mixed Doubles tournament in Olympic Sports Division
Football Never mixed Girls get pom-poms.

Soccer Never mixed. Both happen in fall. Different matches, practices. Both happen in fall. All City Sports Camp would prepare both boys and girls in co-ed fashion in summers.
Basketball Never mixed. Both happen in winter. Different game schedule. Different practices. Different coaches. All City Sports Camp would train both boys and girls in co-ed fashion in summers.

Sports with Different Boys & Girls Squads (PPS Athletics) Soccer, football, volleyball for girls (fall)
Basketball, wrestling (winter)
Baseball, softball, volleyball for boys (spring)
Sports with Co-Ed / Blended Squads (Olympic Sports Division) Water polo, X-Country (fall)
Swimming & Diving (winter)
Track & Field (spring)

Suggestion #38:
Highly competitive swimming helps with school attendance. Don't punish nor eliminate the positive aspects of sports. Rather, promote facilitate and replicate.
Our swim team t-shirt slogan: “Winning Formula: Show up + Score more points.” Showing up matters. In August and September of 2013, a United Way funded PR blitz with PPS stressed school attendance. Swimmers understand that message and live it.
On many mornings in the past years, 25+ students arrived at the school for 6 AM swim practices. This season the Obama Swim Team holds 6 AM practices every school day (if no 2-hour delay). In past years, the 6 am practices would span into the fall and spring too.
At 7:15 am, as swim practice ends, swimmers are at the school. They are present, clean and ready to fuel their bodies and brains. Kids attending AM practice are not tardy for school.
Kids in quality, competitive programs understand that 6 am practices are essential. Champions understand the sacrifices and hard work are worthy. AM swim practices don't happen every where, as not all the teams are doing all they can.
One school day distinction between swimmers and other athletes are AM practices. Many college teams in other sports hold AM practices for their athletes. It would be great to have open gym and weight lifting times at 6 am for students, before school, more often at PPS. Perhaps with the Olympic Sports Division and efforts of PPS H2O, the early bird practices can be with more students, not only swimmers.

Suggestion #39:
Research supports the benefits of the investment into sports.
The fact that high school athletes tend to perform better in school than their peers is well established. High school sports participation is associated with several positive academic outcomes such as higher GPA, fewer disciplinary referrals, lower absenteeism and dropout rates, higher college aspirations and attendance, and stronger commitment to school (Eccles & Barber, 1999Marsh, 1993Sabo, Melnick, & Vanfossen, 1989Snyder & Spreitzer, 1992Whitley, 1998). Upon finding that athletic participation had significant positive effects on 14 of 22 senior and post-secondary educational outcomes and no negative impact on the others, Marsh concluded that, contrary to Coleman’s zero-sum expectations, “participation in sport apparently adds to – not detracts from – time, energy, and commitment to academic pursuits” (1993:35).
A preponderance of research has linked high school sports participation with positive academic outcomes. However, the relationship is believed to have strength and direction contingent upon the dimension of athletic involvement under consideration, and the time span over which predictor and outcome are measured.
The context of sports for the city residents, in a larger debate among schools, parks and clubs, and the linkage between sports and the adolescent with neighborhoods and a patchwork of school experiences, given charter and specialized smaller schools, is should be studied.
These plans offer significant changes and hopes of some sports stability among the students and families in Pittsburgh.

Sport & population
PPS Plan
Rauterkus suggests:
MS Swimming &
Elem Swimming
Cut from PPS Athletics, AND, Establish PPS H20 with seed $ to manage and enhance aquatic activities. Make MS swimming at 6-12 schools in spring with WPIAL competition.
HS Swimming at Perry and Oliver
Cut from PPS Athletics. Form PPS H2O with programming assistance with North Allegheny
HS Swimming at Carrick
Keep with PPS Athletics but support from PPS H20 and coop with Bishop Canevin / PCA
HS Swimming at Brashear
Keep with PPS Athletics but support from PPS H2O and coop with Seaton LaSalle
HS Swimming at Allderdice
Keep within WPIAL. Insert extra PPS H20 support.
HS Swimming at Obama
Keep with WPIAL. Insert extra PPS H20 support. Phase out coop with Sci-Tech.
HS Swimming at Sci-Tech
Phase out coop with PPS Obama in 2 years. Insert extra PPS H20 support. Swimmers in WPIAL as Indie participants.
HS Swimming at CAPA
Cut / Absent
Begin. Insert extra PPS H20 support. Swimmers in WPIAL as Indie participants.
HS & MS Swimming at Westinghouse
Cut / HS is Absent
Begin with coop with Homewood Children's Village and extra PPS H20 support.
HS Diving
Begin with support from PPS H20, All-City Sports Camps, Summer Dreamers 2015. For Perry and Westinghouse.
HS & MS Swim & Water Polo
Fixture in Summer Dreamers for 5 years
Keep in Summer Dreamers. Expand to allow additional participation for grades 3 and above if first choice activity. Match supply and demand via activity partnerships, presently with BGC. Later to move to PPS H20.
Expand with Pgh Combined team in PA Water Polo League, practices mainly at Westinghouse in 2014.
Swim lessons and other activities with PPS H20 and All-City Sports Camps.
Extra Swimming:
Jobs experiences come for some HS students
4 hour for 28 days with SDA partner BGC
Offer job program to best and brightest as swim instructors and lifeguard. Enhance with PPS H20.
MS Volleyball
Cut. Put volleyball into All-City Sports Camps
MS Wrestling
Cut. Put wrestling into All-City Sports Camps
HS Tennis at Allderdice
Keep within PPS Athletics.
HS Tennis at Obama
End Obama co-op with USO. Tennis team goes into Olympic Sports Division.
Get a Citiparks tennis coach to do clinics with teams.
HS Tennis at Sci-Tech & U-Prep
Expand tennis with Olympic Sports Division. Seek to rehab tennis courts at U-Prep with Citiparks.
Get a Citiparks tennis coach to do clinics with teams.
HS Tennis at CAPA
Expand tennis with Olympic Sports Division. Seek to rehab tennis courts at Sue Murray (North Side) with Citiparks. Get a Citiparks tennis coach to do clinics with teams.
HS Tennis at Brashear, Carrick, Westinghouse
Expand tennis within Olympic Sports Division. Get a Citiparks tennis coach to do clinics with teams.
Extra Tennis for HS, MS, & Elem.
Expand tennis with All-City Sports Camps and Summer Dreamers 2015 too.
HS Golf at Allderdice
Keep Allderdice golf in the WPIAL and add Sci-Tech and Obama to Dice in a coop phase but without transportation $ from PPS.
Form a JV PPS Golf League with help of First Tee of Pgh.
HS Golf at Obama
Allow Obama golfers to join Allderdice for existing years in HS as part of a coop. Coop expires in 3 years.
Long term: Expand golf at Obama with partnership with First Tee of Pgh and the Olympic Sports Division.
HS Golf at Sci-Tech
Allow Sci-Tech golfers to join Allderdice for existing years in HS as part of a coop. Coop expires in 3 years.
Expand golf at Sci-Tech with partnership with First Tee of Pgh and the Olympic Sports Division.
HS Golf at Brashear, Carrick and Perry
Expand golf with partnership with First Tee of Pgh and the Olympic Sports Division.
Extra Golf for HS, MS & Elem
Golf is part of PPS Physical Education with a partnership.
Golf is part of PPS Summer Dreamers 2013.
Expand golf and speed golf with partnership with First Tee of Pgh and the Olympic Sports Division. Expand golf with All-City Sports Camps.
Disk Golf, Speed Golf
Expand with Olympic Sports Division and All-City Sports Camps.
Cross Country
Cut from PPS Athletics and move to new Olympic Sports Division
Include within All City Sports Camp
Cross Country helps to established blended gender, Olympic Sports and Triathlon efforts.
Track and Field
Cut from PPS Athletics and move to new Olympic Sports Division
Include within City Sports Camp
Include within All City Sports Camp
Enhance with PPS H20
Rec Cycling is part of SDA with MGR.
Race Cycling is Absent.
Keep with SDA. Include cycling with All City Sports Camp and Olympic Sports Division.

HS Intramurals
Form Olympic Sports Department.
Enhance with All City Sports Camp
HS Baseball in D8 at Perry, Westinghouse, Obama
Supplement with All City Sports Camp
Football at Obama with USO
Phase Obama from USO Coop over 3 years. No daily transportation $ from PPS Board for Obama students. Play football with enrollment to other PPS Schools, not Obama.
Football at Allderdice, Westinghouse, Carrick, Brashear, Perry and U-Prep/Sci-Tech
Think again.
Football players get extra support with Olympic Sports Division, mainly in weight room, year round.
Extra fitness with All City Sports Camp.

Extra cross-train and fitness with PPS H20 too.
Soccer at all PPS
Keep as part of PPS Athletics. Players get support with Olympic Sports Division, year round.
Bonus: Extra fitness with All City Sports Camp.
HS Volleyball at PPS
Keep as part of PPS Athletics. Players get support with Olympic Sports Division, year round.
Bonus: Extra fitness with All City Sports Camp.
Baseball at Allderdice, Carrick, Brashear
Keep as part of PPS Athletics. Players get support with Olympic Sports Division, year round.
Bonus: Extra fitness with All City Sports Camp.
Keep as part of PPS Athletics. Players get support with Olympic Sports Division, year round.
Bonus: Extra fitness with All City Sports Camp.
HS Wrestling
Keep as part of PPS Athletics. Players get support with Olympic Sports Division, year round.
Bonus: Extra fitness with All City Sports Camp.
MS Wrestling
Cut. Players get support with Olympic Sports Division, year round.
Bonus: Extra fitness with All City Sports Camp.
MS Volleyball
Cut. Players get support with Olympic Sports Division, year round.
Bonus: Extra fitness with All City Sports Camp.
Elementary Track
Cut. Players get support with Olympic Sports Division and PPS H20 year round. Bonus: Extra fitness with All City Sports Camp.

Note: The conclusion was cut and will be part of a later release.

PIAA Sports List:

Boys Sports:

Baseball Soccer Basketball Swimming & Diving Bowling Tennis
Cross Country Football Track & Field (Indoor) Track & Field (Outdoor) Golf Volleyball
Lacrosse Water Polo Rifle Wrestling

Girls Sports:

Softball Soccer Basketball Swimming & Diving Bowling Tennis
Cross Country Competitive Spirit Track & Field (Indoor) Track & Field (Outdoor) Golf Volleyball
Lacrosse Water Polo Rifle Field Hockey

Footnote Article: Rules on Transfers
PIAA Constitution and Bylaws: Section 6. Termination of Team(s) for Budgetary Reasons.

Notwithstanding any other provision under this ARTICLE, a
student enrolled at, or who would have otherwise been promoted
to, a PIAA member school which ceases, primarily for budgetary
reasons, to sponsor one or more of its Teams (the "Terminating
School") may Transfer to, and be eligible to participate in
interscholastic athletics at, another PIAA member school (the
"Receiving School") under the following conditions:
a. Within one year immediately preceding the date of
Transfer, the student must have been a member of the
Team which was subsequently terminated primarily for
budgetary reasons, by the Terminating School or, if being
promoted, was a member of a Feeder School's Team in that
b. The student, because of the termination of the Team
primarily for budgetary reasons, Transfers to a public school
or Private School located within the public school district of
the student's residence or to such a school located in a
contiguous public school district;
c. The student must submit to the District Committee of
the student's residence a properly executed PIAA Member
School Athletic Transfer Waiver Request Form specifying
that the reason for the Transfer is the termination of the
Team, primarily for budgetary reasons, by the Terminating
School, accompanied by certification by the Terminating
School's Principal confirming that (1) the Team was
terminated; (2) the Team was terminated primarily for
budgetary reasons; and (3) the student participated within
one year immediately preceding the date of the student’s
Transfer on the terminated Team at the Terminating School
or on one of its Feeder School Team’s in that sport;
d. Upon receipt of the applicable Form and certifications,
the District Committee shall provide confirmation to the
student and the Receiving School’s Principal that the
student is eligible at the Receiving School in the sport which
had been terminated primarily for budgetary reasons by the
Terminating School;
e. A student desiring to play any other sports at the
Receiving School must so indicate such intention upon
submission of the PIAA Member School Athletic Transfer
Waiver Request Form (a supplemental Form may be
submitted later if the student does not know at the time of
the initial submission whether the student will participate in
additional sports at the Receiving School). The applicable
District Committee may conduct an inquiry as to whether the
student's Transfer was materially motivated in some way by
an athletic purpose relating to that sport and, if it so finds,
may declare the student ineligible to participate in sports
other than the terminated sport for a period of one year
immediately following the date of the student’s Transfer.
The student may, however, re-enroll at the Terminating
School and remain eligible to participate in all sports at that
school. Upon such re-enrollment, the student is not later
entitled to eligibility under this Section should the student
again Transfer for the same terminated sport.
f. Should the Terminating School reinstate the terminated
sport in a future year, a student who has transferred is
permitted to Transfer back to the Terminating School and
shall, without further action, is automatically eligible to
participate in all sports at the Terminating School.
Nothing in this Section shall be construed to require any
PIAA member school to accept a student requesting to Transfer
to that school.
This Section is not applicable where the Terminating School
has entered into a Cooperative Sponsorship of a Sport
Agreement with any other PIAA member school to permit
participation by students at the Terminating School in the
terminated sport.
Any PIAA member school, or affiliated personnel or persons,
which in any way recruits students from a Terminating School is
subject to the provisions of ARTICLE VI, TRANSFERS,
RESIDENCE, AND RECRUITING, Section 7, Recruiting, of the
PIAA By-Laws.

Footnote article: A cautionary tale about the fate of sports and other extracurricular activities where many twists and turns happen with various school districts.
As of last year, the PIAA (Pennsylvania's Interscholastic Athletic Association) says kids are allowed to transfer to other schools and school districts to play sports elsewhere if the athletic program is eliminated from their district’s budget. Prior transfer regulations stipulated that a transfer from one school to another that is “materially motivated in some way by an athletic purpose” resulted in the student-athlete needing to sit out of sports for a year of high school. Now PA kids can uproot and compete right away after the budget ax swings and cuts their sport in their home school.
One PA sports administrator was quoted in the paper saying, “The kids want to compete, and the parents want them to be able to compete. So if the state association doesn’t change its rules, parents are going to pick up and move to a school district in a state where their kid can compete.” The worry was not about kids moving from one district to another within Pennsylvania, but rather about moving to another state.
The South-Western City (Ohio) School District cut sports out of its budget in fall 2009. The crisis was temporary, and the district reinstated sports in the winter. But by then the damage was done. More than 100 student-athletes transferred out of the one school district while following regulations of the Ohio High School Athletic Association. Ohio had fiscal issues in the early 2000s.
South-Western has four high schools in Division 1 (the top classification in Ohio high school sports). Like Pittsburgh, South-Western is one of the biggest school districts in the state. Those 103 transfers made an average of 25 kids per school. “I think the district felt the impact of the departures of some key kids who thought they might miss their senior [seasons]. That’s significant if a lot of them don’t come back.” Despite the reinstatement of sports in the winter, many of these athletes never returned. Two years later, the lasting impact of the exodus was still apparent at some schools.
“It was sad. I think, when you drop programs, kids find other interests. It was hard to get them back up and running again.”
“We had another school that did this 20 years ago, and it took them years and years to recover and experience the success they had prior to the dropping of their programs.”
“In the couple of instances where this has happened and school districts thought it would be a great money-saving tactic, it didn’t turn out to be so, because when they didn’t offer these programs they had large numbers of students leaving the district. State reimbursement is based on the number of students enrolled,” said Bob Gardner, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations.
“Measures like these always sound good to the community at first because they think, ‘We’re putting education first,’ but I think sometimes they don’t realize they are cutting out the heart and soul of the school district.”
The cuts to some sports proposed by Pittsburgh Public Schools superintendent, Linda Lane, are not expected to be temporary. They'll be forever. Families interested in competitions with those sports are going to flee the district forever more, unless the alternative plans being proposed, such as PPS H2O, All-City Sports Camps and the Olympic Sports Division can gain traction and get the necessary approval from school and city officials.
Then there’s the option of two or three schools collaborating to form a cooperative agreement in any number of their athletic programs. PIAA regulations allow a co-op to be created among two or three schools, if one school is at or below the enrollment cap of 300 boys or 300 girls. Perhaps the Carrick and Brashear swim teams, rather than being cut fully, could be merged with the swim teams of Bishop Canevin and Seaton LaSalle. Presently, both the Catholic schools are renting pool space from PPS anyway. A coop could give the students better opportunities to play well with others and save those sports teams while using the existing swim pools in the public schools.