The Vinton County Local Board of Education will be taking a team approach to dealing with concerns several parents had about the Vikings' varsity football program.
During the board meeting held Monday evening, about 15 parents attended to voice their opinions regarding the football program. Before the visitors spoke, Board Vice President Tom McManis asked them not to say anything negative about Head Coach Jeff Downs, and his football staff, because they were not there to defend themselves. The speakers agreed to focus on the issues.
One of the speakers, a parent, stated he was not against the coaching staff as professionals, but said he does have some concerns and he offered some specifics.
Some of the major concerns brought up by the group included; No-two-a-day practice sessions in August, no individual practices for the junior varsity players, alleged poor weight lighting and conditioning program and the overall inability to have a winning season since 2005 with the wins mostly not be quality ones. They also stated there are discipline problems on the team. After the parents spoke, the board tabled a personnel item on the agenda to rehire the football staff and another for a volunteer coach. This was done to give the board more time to consider the complaints.
That speaker was just one of 13 parents who spoke on the issue.
"We are going to consult without building leadership and Athletic Director Matt Combs to see where we are in this process," Brooks stated.
Both Coach Downs and Combs did respond to The Telegram communications. Athletic Director Combs stated, "Coach Downs has received excellent evaluations by all administration and has been recommended for rehire." Downs added, "I do expect to meet with the board soon to address any concerns. We are busy preparing for next season."
Board members Tom McManis and Mildred Lane, while not agreeing with the group, did say maybe the board needs to consider some across-the-board changes in the way the coaches are evaluated.
"We are looking at a new evaluation process for all coaches that is more detailed than circling numbers from 1 to 6," said McManis. "We need to know what our coaches are doing and not doing to give our student/athletes the best chance to be successful."
Board member Lane who explained the board can make changes, but it would be part of a process followed his comment. She asked the group of parents if they had the patience to wait for possible changes. She added the board does not want to make a radical change in a hurry but instead wants to make sure any decision is the right one.
The response was somewhat mixed, but it appeared that some in the parents' group is willing to wait and see what the board does.
Board President Jeff Thacker told the group the board is taking their concerns seriously, but that he wants to make sure a fair process takes place.