The latest item on the Prince William County Schools chopping block is the sports program.  Despicable.  This absolutely should not be allowed to happen.  There needs to be a firestorm of protest; otherwise I’m afraid it will be cut.

There’s a petition to sign at –

and a BLOG at –

And, I’d strongly encourage parents to attend the School Board Meeting on Wednesday night to voice your opposition in person. 

24 Thoughts to “Save Prince William Middle School Sports”

  1. DiversityGal

    I think that the supervisor in charge of the PWCS PE and sports program needs to do something first. Perhaps he should flesh out an actual plan of how the intramural program suggested will work. To get help with crafting this plan, I think that he and others should observe/collaborate with a county that already has an intramural model at the middle school level. I believe Fairfax County is one of these places, and has been for awhile. That is the only way to make a good plan for PWCS intramurals and then to communicate what it would look like to parents. Parents will never have even the chance of feeling comfortable with it if they do not know what it will look like.

    I have heard that some middle school sports directors are trying to see the positive side of this, in that it may be able to service more students. However, money will still have to be spent on coaches; you are not going to get people to volunteer out of the goodness of their hearts…especially as you tell them that they will not get cost of living, their cost of benefits will go up, and in effect, they will lose money. The savings will come, I guess, on the transportation piece of middle school competitive sports.

    A fee for playing, I think, is a DANGEROUS road to go down. Even if parents say that they would be happy to contribute more for those who need a scholarship, it furthers the gap between those children that have the means to play, and those that don’t. In any case, anyone who works in the schools knows that tons of families that qualify for free and reduced lunches never do sign up, because they refuse to take a hand out. I’m sure there would have to bee some paperwork involved for them to qualify a fee waiver. How many more students wouldn’t get to play sports if a fee is added?

    In any case…I do not know the answer to this question. It is highly complicated. I do not want kids to lose their competitive sports program at the middle school level. I also don’t want class sizes to increase, assistant positions at kindergarten to be lost, and for every employee at a school to be asked to do much more for much less (and then to be told at every turn, “Just be grateful you have a job.”).

  2. Moon-howler

    Every time money gets tight, the middle school sports programs go on the chopping block. This quick fix has been around several budget crisises in the past and I am not sure it would save that much money. What perhaps parents might want to look at is how many more kids might get to play sports if the schools went to intramural sports.

    The down side to intramurals is everyone’s little future sports jock would not get to be a star in middle school, supposedly. In middle school, only the best of the best even make the team in football, basketball, baseball, and soccer. Track and wrestling are a little easier to make but no guarantees. Additionally, often kids in 6th and 7th grades do not make teams. 8th graders are selected only to beef up the teams.

    If we want more kids involved in sports, then go with the intramurals. If you want a place for a few stars to shine, then fight tooth and nail for the sports teams as they exist.

  3. Moon-howler

    When it comes to sports, DG, most families would do without food so little Johnny can play basketball (or any other sport of choice). Most PTA/PTO organizations have emergency funds for those who cannot afford to play. I wouldn’t let that stand in the way.

    You have made an excellent point about finding out about what model of intramural sports would be played. Additionally, making the change would be worthless if it was just for a year or 2. You still have to pay coaches, maintain equipment and personal equipment, Most of the savings would be transportation. Didn’t the paper state the savings would be around a half million dollars?

  4. Sceptical

    I do not understand why the whole county gets up in arms over middle school sports when the majority of the parents don’t even care that the elementary kids are not learning maths. Math investigations is a sham; by the time most parents find out how bad it is, it will be too late.

    I agree the inter-school sports are important but the academics are more important in school life.

    That said, the amount of money they are talking about is a drop in the bucket.

  5. Cynic

    Sceptical, did you know that exercise for you humans, particularly young children, is as necessary and important to one’s well-being as math? Still skeptical? Check it out with qualified health professionals.

    Of course, for the sports program to be effective, all the students must be participating.

  6. Hmmm....

    You’re kidding, right?

    The outrage is because the inter-school middle school sports program is going to be cut (and replaced with less formal intramural sports)?!? You’re not the list bit outraged that teachers aren’t going to get a raise? Or that class sizes are going to go to the state-mandated limit (28 for K, 30 for Elementary, 35+ for some high school)? Or that building renovations and repair are being put on hold?

    Really, what’s the effect of this? We no longer have crazy parents thinking little Johnny in 7th grade is going to be the next Peyton Manning. We take some of the pressure off little Suzie to be the next Mia Hamm. What’s being cut is the spectacle of interscholastic athletics, not intramurals or phys ed. If this is what stirs our outrage with the proposed school budget, we need to get our heads out of our a**es. There are far more detrimental cuts in this budget than this one.

  7. ShellyB

    M-H is right that it will be hard to let go of traditions like sports in school, taking care of our elders, and taking care of troubled youth. We made some big mistakes in our county government and now it is time to pay the price. But we can still proudly state that we are the “Immigration Crackdown Capitol of America.” Yipee.

  8. Chris

    My daughter is very upset to hear that middle school sports maybe on the chopping block. She’s is how I first learned of this horrible possibility. She’s in high school, and it does not have a direct effect on her, but she certainly saw ALL the benefits of playing sports at middle school level.

    I believe that she will elaborate a little later.

  9. Teen Queen

    I believe that middle schools should keep their sports. Once they get to high school they’re not going to understand competition between schools or anything like that. High school sports as a freshman are easy to get into because they are walk-on teams. They won’t have to work to get on a team. As a freshman your sport is easy it’s not like once u get older. Students love to not like another schools because they try harder. When I did middle school sports I loved to hate other schools because it made our teams try harder to beat them. If they take away middle school sports there not going to get the feeling. High schools are crazy and they are more tough than middle, not just because of the age group. Middle school sports can help keep kids out of trouble to and from doing dumb and stupid things. By taking away them only God knows what they’re going to do. These students are going to miss out on a lot if they take away sports. I love giving back to my community and helping out at my old middle school with sports, in my spare time when I’m not doing a high school sport. I would hate to see my spare time be wasted by doing nothing next year. I love my middle school friends dearly and i know they will be devastated if their sports and clubs where gone.

  10. Moon-howler

    Sceptical, not everyone is dissatisfied with MI. I have talked to twice as many parents who love it as hate it. They tell me that they see their children better able to manipulate numbers and understand them. The those in the middle probably don’t care as long as their children are learning.

    Parents have always cared about the sports programs in Pr. Wm. county. This is not the first time middle school programs have been offered up as the sacrificial lamb. You will get hundreds of parents out on this one.

    The sports parents are just as impassioned about their programs as you are about yours. And for them, there is no middle ground.

  11. Moon-howler

    Welcome Hmmmm and Teen Queen,

    You have both made valid points.

    Teen, I think sports teams are excellent for middle school. Could more people be involved in sports if intramurals were played? I see an argument for both.

    Hmmm, the same people will throw fits over classes with 35 + kids in them as throw fits over the sports programs. They won’t understand how serious the money situation really is.

    I don’t think intramurals will save that much money in the long run.

  12. ShellyB

    I know it seems important Teen Queen. I felt the same way when Prince William County abandoned the idea of caring for our elderly. The competitive spirit isn’t the only way to want to excel in life. Think of it this way, without sports there would be no way for jocks and cheerleaders to think they are better than the rest of us (=

  13. Casual Observer

    I’m sorry, but I cannot gather up a decent sense of outrage over this proposal. I think intramural might be a good model for the middle schools, and might result in even more kids participating in sports. I wonder how many kids would love to play soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, etc in MS but don’t even bother to try out because they believe they aren’t talented enough to make a middle school team.

    I’m much more outraged about the planned proposal to charge students/parents for AP, IB and Cambridge exams in the high schools. That will be the death of the Cambridge and IB specialty programs, as few families can afford to pay $83 per exam, on top of the registration fee. Just as an example, kids who are going for IB Honors or IB Diploma at Stonewall or Gar-Field High Schools take six or seven IB exams in the senior year! I imagine it’s a very similar scenario for kids in the Cambridge Program at Brentsville or the new AP Academy at WSHS.

    Will the kids that PWCS pays to send to Thomas Jefferson HS in Fairfax continue to have their AP exams subsidized? I imagine those kids take quite a few AP classes every year.

  14. Moon-howler

    Excellent point, Casual Observer. I wonder if the PTA/PTOs will be as willing to subsidize those IB, AP and Cambridge fees for economically disadvantaged students as they are for field trips and sports programs. I suppose we will be to form IB Boosters clubs etc.

    I also agree about the kids who do not get to play sports in middle school because they aren’t stars. The middle school programs now are somewhat exclusive, as silly as that sounds. Especially for boys, almost no 6th or 7th grader makes a varsity team.

    A $57 million deficit is going to knock the wind out of many a program’s sails. Basically, Dr. Walts can hang up that World Class Education slogan because it isn’t going to be.

    $57 million dollars is a little less than 1000 teachers, if you want to change the units into something more tangible.

  15. Juturna

    No one wants to cut anything, however, typically you cut based on how you grew. Not always the most effective strategy but one that is easily understood.

    On the other hand, regardless of the size of these schools are sooo big, they still field 9 on a baseball team and 5 on a basketball team. So it’s not like the majority of the kids play on a team or would ever even be considered.

    If you are truly interested in sports ativities for regular kids, I would be more concerned about upcoming cuts to the Park Authority.

  16. DiversityGal

    A question…are Fairfax County sports teams at the high school level seen as competitive with other surrounding counties? Does having an intramural program positively, negatively, or not at all affect the athletic skill of high school athletes? If it does not negatively affect the skill of later programs, can be crafted intelligently and decently, includes more children in physical fitness, and saves even a little money…why is this seen as so awful? Indeed, there are many small changes in the budget that people are going to have to find in order for things to add up into bigger savings.

    Is it because it is a change, and people are generally change resistant? Is it because parents may have less access to the games, which are likely to be held during school activity hours…even if that is what will service more children? Is it because while still providing competition, it may take away from what adults (and some kids) see as the elite aspects of the game?

    I say all this as someone who was involved in middle school sports herself. I enjoyed the one sport I was in, but I’ll tell you that I would have tried a couple more if try-outs weren’t the end-all be-all. Hopefully, if an intramural plan is put through, PWCS will have some parents of middle school athletes involved to address some of the issues of concern.

  17. Juturna

    I will add that preserving the best we can for the teachers should be the main mission in developing education budgets.

    As extra’s for students are cut so should administrative oversight. More educators fewer “manager’s” just might improve a lot of things. Teachers know how to handle things. We should let them.

  18. DB

    Why is it that more parents complain about the demise of competetive sports in middle school, and less complain that their soon to be 7th grader will soon have 32 students in their English class? What? Middle school is about sports? School is more about sports than learning? My take on the whole situation is to eliminate all try-out teams from all schools. There are NO SOLS for cheerleading aptitude, football skills, soccer stars etc. If colleges, and pro teams rely on high schools to deliver athletes to them, then let those organizations deliver the money to the HS athletic programs. The K-12 machine is here to teach and make AYP, there is no money built in for athletics. There isn’t even money for disadvantaged students to take IB,PSAT,SAT or AP exams, or drivers ed very soon.

  19. Teen Queen

    These students may need something to go on their college apps. What the students are going through middle and high school all need to go on that app. because the more you have on it the better chance they have of getting in anywhere colleges want students who are different from the average student. They don’t want a “cookie cutter” student, they want someone who stands out from the rest

  20. casual observer

    Colleges don’t care what you did in middle school. Trust me, they only want to see what you’ve done in high school. The proposed change to the budget does not eliminate HS sports, but does charge a nominal ($50, I think?) activity fee. Since all PWC middle schools will be on an intramural program, you’ll (theoretically) all be on a level playing field when it comes time to try out for a HS team. And there’s nothing to stop anyone from trying out for travel teams in middle school if you’re really interested in a particular sport. Most of the more athletically inclined kids already do that, and those are the kids who have a real advantage making the HS team under the current system anyway. That won’t change.

  21. Juturna

    MS should collaboate with the Park Authority. More bang for the buck. Will stop trying to make the point.

  22. Charlie

    The sports oriented parents are an active and vocal group – that is why you hear so much about the cutting of middle school sports. Getting teachers higher salaries, well, not many people will huddle around that one.

    My fear is that by cutting so much (larger class sizes, reduced sports, low teacher salary, etc), PWC is not going to be attracting the more educated parents. Those parents are going to look at Loudon and Fairfax, and PWC will remain with our forclosures – but do not fear, cause we are sill looking for those illegals (hint, just go to coverstone to see how effective it has been).

  23. ShellyB

    I agree with DB. If the colleges need the high schools as a talent farm, let them pay for high school athletic programs. Anything where you have to try out for the team is unfair to the kids who aren’t good enough. What benefit is it to have a football team or a cheerleading squad, other than for the kids who get selected?

    Maybe the mismanagement of public funds under Corey Stewart isn’t ALL bad. We can have schools that are more egalitarian.

  24. Moon-howler

    I agree with DB in concept. (perfect world scenario) Everyone knows that colleges and universities are struggling to keep afloat themselves. There is no money to foot a bunch of sports programs out in high school land.

    However, ShellyB really hits the nail on the head when she questions:

    Anything where you have to try out for the team is unfair to the kids who aren’t good enough. What benefit is it to have a football team or a cheerleading squad, other than for the kids who get selected?

    Unfortunately, Americans have their love affair with their sports heroes even down to the little league teams. Listen to the parents at a soccer game some Saturday morning encouraging 10 year olds to annihilate each other. As teen queen wrote,(and she did a better job of expressing it than I am doing) having rival teams motivates the students and gives them team spirit. Having someone to hate gets the juices flowing or something.

    If PWC schools are in this no money mode for long, perhaps they do need to think about the cost effectiveness of having middle school sports programs. Perhaps they need to beef up those PE programs. Beef down might be the better word to use here. Most PW classes are huge. Far too huge for any real playing time for most kids. They also work on state mandated objectives rather than play the intra-mural type sports so many people assume they play.

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