A group of parents and patrons spent an hour discussing their concerns about the state of the Houston High School football program to open Tuesday’s monthly school board meeting.
Spearheaded by Kyle Miller, who made the opening statement on behalf of about 20 people in attendance, the group aired frustrations about the team’s lack of success in recent years. The Tigers were 1-9 in 2013 and are a combined 11-70 the past eight seasons.
Among the concerns expressed were a lack of player participation, no paid assistant coaches, no high school coaches as staff members and questions about finances spent on the program.
“Everything you’ve said here tonight, I’ve laid in bed worrying about. We understand your concerns, and we share them,” Superintendent Scott Dill said. “This hurts me every single time we lose a game. I keep my head held high because I don’t want the kids to see it –– ever. But it hurts.”
Dill said the district looks for coaching prospects when teaching positions open. He said one problem the school faces in finding quality candidates is the lack of recent success.
“When coaches are looking for jobs, Houston is not at the top of their list right now. And that hurts,” Dill said. “If there was an easy solution, I promise you I would have done it years ago. I don’t have any quick answers, but I want you to know that this is important.”
Marty Merckling, the lone coach in attendance, said the resolution was fixing the program “from the bottom up, not the top down.” He pointed out a lack of consistent participation in the program.
Merckling said Mountain View-Liberty had 12 players who were four-year members of the high school team this past season. Mountain Grove had 15 and Salem had 10. Houston had four seniors who played all four years. Next year, the Tigers will have one.
“It doesn’t matter who the coach is at the top if we can’t get more players to stay in the program,” Merckling said. “We can’t compete with teams that have two and three times as many players as us (who were four-year participants). There’s not a chance, it doesn’t matter who the coach is.”
In other matters, school board members:
––Participated in the Pledge of Allegiance led by junior Olivia Woosley, who was representing HHS students competing in the Constitution Project.
––Heard from Stephen Telscher, of Sapp Design Associates Architects P.C. in Springfield, that roof work approved in the 2013 bond issue will begin in December. A pre-construction meeting will be held in November to detail the schedule of work.
––Approved a request from the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Texas Lodge 177, to include a cornerstone as part of the district’s new construction. It will include a time capsule.
––Heard a presentation from Caleb Arthur of Missouri Sun Solar LLC potential benefits for the district by using solar energy.
––Approved a request from Josh Roehrs, a HHS agriculture teacher, to declare scrap metal and a car lift as surplus property.
––Were presented information from athletic director Brent Kell related to potentially moving the HHS softball season from the fall to spring season. The board requested additional information.
The next board meeting is 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, at the Exceptional Child Cooperative.