Middle school sports will be eliminated and no C-teams at high school after recent failure of school levy
Woodland Public Schools sports administrators and coaches are trying to stay positive, looking for new ways to serve athletes and their families after the recent levy failed by seven votes.
Middle school sports will be eliminated, said Paul Huddleston, athletic director at Woodland High School. C-team sports at the high school will be cut. Coaching staffs on team sports will be limited. And there will be no more transportation for athletes to get to and from contests.
“We’re all licking our wounds right now. We’re a little bit in shock,” Huddleston said.
Huddleston said, however, that he knew the district was not issuing empty threats when it pointed out all that would be lost if the levy failed.
(Note: The district is suffering from more than just cuts to the athletic department. The failed levy will affect students, families, and school employees across the board. This story deals with athletics.)
Huddleston said the district did not request a recount after the levy failed by so few votes. That is costly, too, and there was no guarantee that a recount would go in the district’s way.
Woodland Public Schools serves two counties. The voters from Clark County voted yes to the levy 279-243 in a special election on April 25. Voters from Cowlitz County voted no 1,800 to 1,757. Add them together, and it was 2,043 to 2,036 against the levy.
There is no provision in the law where a recount of the results of a local measure is mandated, according to Greg Kimsey, Clark County auditor. A recount can be requested, but no request was received in regard to the recent levy for Woodland Public Schools, he added.
Huddleston said he has been proud of the Woodland sports model, where high school and middle school coaches work together to provide athletes structure and familiarity with Woodland’s core values. Athletes who progress from middle school to high school already know the expectations from the high school programs.
“It’s a key component for us building programs,” Huddleston said. “It’s part of our system. How do we fill that void and stay competitive? How do we bridge the gap with that middle school piece being gone?”
Those are some of the questions, and Huddleston is optimistic that Woodland will find the right answers because he has already seen coaches, and community members, step up with ideas.
“I’ve been so impressed,” Huddleston said.
The top-tier athletes will still have their clubs, but Woodland will also look for ways to keep the rest of the athletes as part of the athletic community. Clinics might be held. Perhaps intramural sports at the middle school will help fill the void. Other sports associations, such as Clark County Youth Football, could help, too.
“All kinds of community members are rallying, trying to help. I’ve had a ton of people reaching out,” Huddleston said. “Our coaches are trying to find a way.”
Huddleston said there won’t be traditional school sports at middle school, but there will be opportunities for athletes to be coached.
Huddleston also said it is key that all involved in the athletic department give the students reason to stay positive.
Don’t use the failed levy as a crutch, Huddleston warned.
“You can take it personally. You can be pissed off. But it’s the kids who are suffering,” Huddleston said. “Everything is about the kids, so we need to find a way to make it happen for the kids. It won’t be as good as having school sports, and it will be a lot more work, but we’ll make the best of the situation. That’s just what we are going to do.”
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