Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Decisions, Decisions

I would like to provide some color on two recent decisions that I have made. As you know, I do not hide from things that I say or do as I always take responsibility for my actions.  One thing that I like to do is keep people informed so that if a decision is made people can agree or disagree with my thought process, and we can agree or disagree with the facts instead of guessing and relying on rumors.

The first decision was to not forfeit the recent football game between the Wildcats and the Baldwinsville Bee's. The game was a high scoring affair that ended up with a fifth down being given. With the extra down we were able to secure a first down and eventually go on to win the game.  No one knew that the fifth down had happened until after the game when a volunteer from Baldwinsville brought it to the attention of the coaching staff and they went on to review the film. Our coach was notified the day after the game and he concurred that a fifth down had been given.

I have coached and I have refereed plenty of basketball games to know that mistakes happen.  In this case the referees, down judges, chain crew, scoreboard operator, and both coaches missed the fifth down being given. The emphasis at that point in the game was how much time was on the clock and that apparently is what got people distracted from what down it was.

I consider myself to be student centered and in this case I was working with the information that a fifth down was given in error with the eventual outcome of the game being a win for the Wildcats. When the fifth down was given there was still time on the clock. The assumption is that the ball would have been turned over on fourth down and that the game would have ended.  In high school sports there is no way to determine the outcome until the game is over. I make it a practice to not let adults ruin things for students whenever possible, so I decided not to forfeit the win and let Section III provide the final judgement. They ruled that there is no national high school athletic regulation that provides for the outcome of a game to be reversed based on error. I did support Baldwinsville's protest to Section III, because it would be nice to know through an investigation why an error was made in the first place.

What would have made me change my decision and suggest a forfeit?  I think if time had expired on the fifth down and if the game had been played at home. At home we assign the volunteers, the chaperones, the security, and the coaches. I take responsibility for their actions every time we have a contest in any sport or activity and if they would have made an error I would have taken responsibility for that and would have forfeited the game. I would have answered to the players, coaches, and parents in my community. Similarly, if time had expired giving no other opportunity to call a play, then I would agree that the outcome of the game had been determined. In this game both of those conditions did not exist, so we decided to move forward the way we did.

I have been told that I have missed a "teachable moment" with this game.  Really.  The teachable moment to me is that adults (through human error in this case) tainted a memory for a bunch of kids on both sides of the ball.  The other teachable moment for us as adults I think is that both teams played until the whistle and both teams fought right to the end; doing exactly what we coach them to do.  There might be something for us to learn from that.

The second decision is centered around pupil transportation. Click here to view a presentation that I gave at the last Board of Education meeting explaining why we now use a transfer system for private and parochial students and why we have farther bus stops for many of our middle and high school students. In a nutshell, we transport 4,800 students daily to seven West Genesee school locations and 32 private and parochial school destinations. With this transfer system we have 37 students who ride 60 minutes or longer to or from school.

As you will see in the presentation, we were forced into this by pressure from the State to place more students on buses and to save money. We do have more students on buses now and we will save close to $225,000.  We are working to deliver some of the longer riding students more quickly (mostly private and parochial students and of the 4,800 students we transport, 272 of them are from private and parochial schools) and if we can we certainly will. The use of the transfer system was something that we did after cutting $8M of our own expenses. If after reading the presentation you have any questions, please contact me.

Please do not consider this blog post to be negative, emotional, or self-serving. Papers need to be sold. I get that and I respect that. I get paid to lead and make decisions, and I make dozens of key decisions each day. Not all of them are popular, but I can assure you that none of them are taken lightly. I appreciate your continued support and have a great week.