Supporters of the Longfellow Running Club showed up in numbers at the Clintonville School Board meeting Monday, April 27, to voice their concerns about the 2015-16 school year.
Supporter of the running club told the board they heard Karen Petermann’s schedule for the 2015-16 school year was being changed in a way that would require her to be at the high school for an 8 a.m. class. This change would take some of her time away from the running club. Petermann started the running club and it currently meets before school at Rexford Longfellow Elementary School.
Prior to the public comments portion of the meeting, Clintonville School District Superintendent Tom O’Toole explained the school’s policy that deals with public participation at board meetings, the information about the public comments registration form, and how the district deals with complaints.
He said when a citizen addresses the board about an issue the board can send the issue to a committee or place it on a future agenda. He also said if a board member interacts with a speaker, that board member is not speaking on behalf of the entire board.
O’Toole also said each person addressing the board is limited to three minutes. If two or more people want to speak about the same topic, a total of six minutes is allowed for a delegation.
The board had reaffirmed these policies during its reorganizational meeting earlier in the evening.
When the public was allowed to speak several citizens addressed the board about their displeasure with the decision to require Petermann be at the high school at 8 a.m. next school year.
Kathy Akey spoke about the positive feelings surrounding communities have regarding the running club.
“I urge the board to really consider finding a way to make it continue. We need it for our youth,” Akey said.
Elaine Schuler, who said she works for the school district said she received a concern that the tentative scheduling for the 2015-16 school year calls for Petermann to be at the high school for her first class at 8 a.m.
“This would not allow her to continue to operate the running club in the morning,” Schuler said.
Schuler said an afternoon club would not work because of transportation issues, volunteer issues, and participation issues.
“It would totally eliminate the benefits of morning exercise to boost academic performance as well as eliminate the healthy breakfast club that follows the running club,” Schuler said.
Schuler said Petermann currently arrives at Longfellow at 6 a.m., with students arriving around 6:15 a.m. The club runs from 6:30-7:30 a.m., which is followed by eating a healthy breakfast as a club. This allows students and Petermann to depart for their first hour class around 8:20 a.m.
She said that there are around 124 students involved in the running club.
She added that the running club is funded with donations and fundraisers.
“I can totally understand how scheduling can be a terrific problem, but I truly want this club to continue to function before school,” Schuler said.
Jodie Carrico, a running club coach and parent, said she knows that several options have been presented to the running club.
She said options included moving the running club to the high school, moving it to after school, keeping it in the morning with Petermann leaving earlier to allow her time to get to the high school, and keeping the running club in the morning at Longfellow with Petermann, but starting earlier.
After considering those options, she said there were at least three reasons why each option wouldn’t work. She then went through each reason.
“These were all suggestions offered to running club and they truly were considered however these suggestions were presented as options without doing due diligence of understanding the structure of how running club works,” Carrico said.
She asked what suggestions were presented to keep the running club the same as it is now.
After all those who wanted to speak about the running club had their chance to speak, council President Ben Huber said, “This is not an action item and we as a board literally cannot discuss it tonight. We will have discussions in the future, and that’s all I can say.”
Christy Jacobsen said she emailed O’Toole last week asking that the item be placed on the agenda.
“I was denied because it was spoken for and already done, that’s what I was told,” Jacobsen said.
At the meeting the Clintonville School Board and administration neither confirmed nor denied this change is taking place.
See next week’s Tribune-Gazette for more from the school board meeting.