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Tacoma School District sports will continue as scheduled during strike

Post by Doug Pacey / The News Tribune on Sep. 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm with No Comments »
September 12, 2011 7:48 pm

With teachers on the picket line, Tacoma School District classrooms will be empty, but its playing fields will be full.

“It’s business as usual for sports,” Wilson athletic director John Portenier said. “We’ll continue to have athletics.”

Tacoma teachers met Monday evening for a vote and 87 percent of the Tacoma Education Association’s membership approved a strike.

While practices and events will continue as scheduled, there is one hitch. Coaches cannot step onto school campuses until 2:30 p.m.

“That’s after our contracted day as teachers,” said Foss High football coach Ken Baker, who also teaches math and wood technology.

Coaches, even those that are teachers, have contracts with the district that are separate from teaching contracts. It’s not uncommon for sports to continue during strikes.

When teachers in the Kent School District went on strike for 19 days at the beginning of the 2009-10 school year, athletic events carried on as scheduled.

Baker said he was in favor of coaching.

“Coaches are under a different bargaining agreement,” he said, “so when they told us we could coach, we said ‘Heck, why not?’ We just hoped the district wouldn’t lock us out.”

On Monday afternoon, the district confirmed its intention for sports to go on as scheduled.

“The district plans to allow all sports to continue,” district spokesman Dan Voelpel wrote in an e-mail.

There had been talk that athletes would have to find their own way to games and events, but Portenier said transportation has been arranged.

“We’ll continue to have athletics,” he said, “and there will be transportation for teams.”

A special Narrows League athletics directors meeting has been scheduled this afternoon at Bellarmine Prep to discuss the affects of the strike on league events.

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