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HIGH SCHOOLS WILL INCREASE SPORTS PROGRAMS FOR GIRLS

SHARE HIGH SCHOOLS WILL INCREASE SPORTS PROGRAMS FOR GIRLS

More sports programs are coming to Davis County high schools.

Girls who want to play basketball and volleyball as sophomores can sign up next year. The school board voted unanimously this week to organize the programs.But the news isn't necessarily good for everyone.

Setting up schedules, hiring coaches, buying uniforms and paying officials will cost the district about $23,000 next year. And principals, already pressed to find enough coaches for existing sports, must now find more.

"It's going to be tough. I'm all for equal opportunities, but I'm already looking for five coaches," said Tamara Lowe, principal of Clearfield High School.

The press to hire enough coaches can hurt academics, she said. "I may want to hire a top-notch science teacher, but because I need a good basketball coach too, I may have to drop a few notches in the science department to hire a person who can teach science and coach volleyball."

Others share that perspective. "Maybe it's time to send the message that we need to cut back, however painful that would be," said Vik Arnold, president of the Davis Education Association. He said it doesn't make sense to expand athletic programs when the district has challenges meeting its basic educational program.

However, many believe offering a full slate of athletics to students is as important as a full offering of academic courses. "I can tell you that (the $23,000) will be money well-spent. Sports has made many, many students better people," said Craig Hansen, physical education supervisor for the district.

School board member Dan Eastman, also on the board of trustees for the Utah High School Activities Association, sees the decision as one for equality.

The district has offered basketball and volleyball to sophomore boys for years and must now give that same opportunity to girls. "It's been clear to me from the beginning what our decision had to be."

Before voting this week, the board met with Granite, Salt Lake, Weber and Jordan school districts to gauge whether officials were willing to cut sophomore athletic programs entirely. The consensus was clear: No one, especially elected school boards, would be willing to cut programs already in place.