Houston Schools

Several familiar faces are returning to the sidelines as coaches in Houston.

Following approval by the school board during the closed session of Tuesday’s monthly meeting, Eric Sloan and Jack Johnson are rejoining Houston Schools as football coaches and Brent Hall and John Jordan will resume previous roles as assistant basketball coaches.

The additions of Sloan and Johnson continue a complete makeover of head coach Billy O’Neil’s staff this offseason. The board previously hired Vince McCrosky and Ken Cooperman as faculty members and assistant football coaches.

“We’ve struck gold. I really believe that,” Houston Superintendent Scott Dill said. “I think we’ve hired a group of high-quality teachers who are also high-quality coaches.”

Sloan, who was hired as the elementary room focus coach, will be an assistant football coach and middle school boys’ basketball head coach. His wife, Kayla, was hired as the head middle school volleyball and girls’ basketball coach during May’s board meeting.

Johnson, who was named a middle school football coach, joins the district as a full-time substitute teacher. The new position was created at last month’s board meeting.

After about 20 community members expressed their concerns about the struggling football program at the November board meeting, Dill said he was directed by the board to find teachers who were also coaches. The football program, which had one faculty member as a coach last year, enters the 2014 season with five coaches who are also full-time staff members.

“We were looking for coaches –– make no mistake. But we are always looking for teachers first,” Dill said. “With this staff, there will be a lot of experience and passion on the sidelines.”

With little faculty flexibility in the high school and middle school, Dill worked closely alongside his wife and elementary principal, Amy, to shuffle teachers and create the necessary openings to add faculty football coaches.

“I consider this one of my proudest accomplishments,” Dill said. “We were able to reallocate existing personnel to other areas –– in which they were fully qualified –– to open spots that were more general in terms of the certificate required. By doing that, we were able to look for high-quality teachers who also had coaching credentials.”

Hall, who was an assistant girls’ basketball coach last year, moves to boys’ assistant for the 2014-’15 season under head coach Rob Coffey. Hall replaces John Coussons, who resigned effective immediately as high school social studies instructor at the board meeting.

Filling Hall’s vacancy is Jordan, who returns to the girls’ basketball program following a year off for health-related reasons. He will be head coach Brent Kell’s assistant.

“Looking over our football and basketball rosters, I’m very pleased. I think we’ve assembled one of the better coaching staffs the district has had,” Dill said. “I think we are on the cusp of something pretty amazing here in Houston –– academically and athletically.”

Also at the meeting, board members:

-Heard an update on new construction and improvements related to the 2013 bond issue. Roof work, which has been hampered by recent rains, is halfway complete at the vocational building. Primary demolition is completed on campus and dirt work, especially near the cafeteria, is ongoing. Dill expects construction to be finished in May 2015.

-Approved a bid from Landmark Bank for banking and depository services beginning July Bid specifications for propane, pest control, dairy products, bread products and photography services were approved and will be decided at the July meeting.

-Set meal prices for the upcoming school year. They are: student breakfast, $1.20; student lunch, $1.75; adult breakfast, $1.35; and adult lunch, $1.95.

-Received an assessment and evaluation from Roger Brallier, assistant elementary principal, focused on computer-based testing.

-Increased Audrey Kell’s contract from 11 to 12 months for the upcoming school year. Kell is the director of curriculum and federal programs for the district.

Looking over our football and basketball rosters, I’m very pleased. …I think we are on the cusp of something pretty amazing here in Houston – academically and athletically.”

PDF: Minutes from Tuesday’s school board meeting

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