School Board reduces athletic director position

The Piedmont Unified School District board voted to cut the high school’s Director of Athletics from a full-time position to a 0.6 Full-Time Equivalent position at its meeting on July 13. The decision was based both on the need for budget cuts as well as the uncertainty as to whether high school sports will be provided in the fall.

Piedmont AD Alphonso Powell had no comment on his future after the cut.

Normally, the California Interscholastic Federation and its member sections set up calendars and playoffs for schools. However, the CIF is planning to announce on July 20 what the future of high school sports will be, at least for the fall.

“Our coaches right now, even though we’re in this Covid environment, they’re still eager to work with our students,” Piedmont High School principal Adam Littlefield said. “Coaches are trying to stay connected with the student-athletes in a variety of different ways.”

“There are a fair amount of families that are just really interested in what’s the plan, what are we going to do. For our students who are going to be seniors, not only did they lose that activity in the spring, but all of the planning that takes place for the fall too. We want our students to be safe and able to prepare for whatever activities they plan to participate in.”

Schools across the nation are dealing with more important questions than whether to offer sports. Namely, if it’s safe for students and teachers to hold in-person classes when schools are scheduled to open next month. Many districts, including Piedmont, have already announced they will start the school year with distance learning (meaning no students in the classroom), which would likely rule out any contact sports.

But sports remain one of the most popular extracurricular activities offered at many schools. Sports also need planning. Most fall teams begin organized workouts prior to the first day of school.

The PUSD board has not yet considered a proposal to eliminate the coaching stipends for assistant coaches. Powell said he was more concerned with what happens with those coaches rather than his own situation.

“The hardest part for me is reducing the assistant coach stipends,” Powell said. “Those are paid for by the Coach’s Stipend Fund contributions. If you lose those stipends, you lose those professional assistant coaches. That’s the biggest impact to the teams.”

“But at the same time, if you are unsure whether you are going to have sports next year, you have to make those adjustments to the budget.”

Littlefield said the uncertainty surrounding sports has left schools in limbo.

“I’ve heard some sports might start later, I’ve heard the elimination of some sports,” Littlefield said, adding that clarification from the CIF will help.

“Once we have an understanding of what sports will look like for next year, we’ll be able to clarify (the status of assistant coaches),” he said.

However, the CIF is basing its decision on feedback from members – put another way, the organization has been trying to get clarity from the very schools seeking clarity from it.

Littlefield acknowledged that the fast-changing situation could whipsaw students and their families.

“I just hope we aren’t in the situation where that information changes so frequently where we have to develop some plans and then change them, develop some plans and then change them again,” he said.

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