Battle Ground gears up for return of middle school sports

Middle school sports will return to Battle Ground Public Schools next year after a 38-year absence. The district is preparing to introduce cross country, basketball, and soccer; with other sports to be added in future years.

Next year, 7th and 8th grade students will have an opportunity to participate in non-competitive play for the first few weeks of the basketball and soccer seasons, and then can try out for competitive teams. Each team will participate in eight to 10 games versus the other middle schools in the Battle Ground district. Practices and games will be held after middle schools release at 2:40 p.m.

The Battle Ground Public Schools Board of Directors worked to bring back middle school sports in response to requests from parents and community members on district surveys. A few years ago, the district began conducting ThoughtExchange surveys that brought priorities such as middle school sports to the top of the list of what the community wants for our students. Other priorities the community identified include safety and security, facilities maintenance, and support for the social emotional well-being of students.

Battle Ground Public Schools last provided middle school sports in 1982.

The board decided to dedicate levy funds to middle school sports after the Washington Legislature raised the amount that school districts could collect through local property tax levies. As a result of the raise, the Battle Ground district will receive more local levy funds in 2020 than it did in 2019, although it will still collect less than voters approved. Even with the increase, Battle Ground Public schools has the lowest school property taxes among K-12 districts in Clark County. 

“We are committed to being responsible stewards of public funds and providing the best educational experience to our students, including healthy activities that promote a positive school culture,” said Board President Troy McCoy. “Middle school sports will create many opportunities for the community and families to engage with our schools.”

To help manage the cost of the middle school sports program, sports will be phased in over several years and use existing facilities. The district is working out logistics concerning facilities use, equipment, transportation, and staffing, and expects to start hiring for coaching positions in the next few months.

Students who participate in middle school sports will pay an ASB fee and individual sport fees that will also cover some program costs such as transportation between games and officials. To participate, students must maintain academic eligibility per district requirements and will need to have a sports physical prior to participation.

The first year of middle school sports will be divided into four seasons. The fall season will see 7th and 8th graders compete in both cross country and girls soccer. In early winter, middle schools will field 7th and 8th grade boys basketball, followed closely on its heels by 7th and 8th grade girls basketball in late winter. The first year of middle school sports will round out with 7th and 8th grade boys soccer in the spring, and another opportunity for 7th and 8th graders, as well as 6th graders, to participate in spring cross country.

The district will survey 6th and 7th grade parents this spring to get an estimate of how many students will be interested in participating in middle school sports so that it can better prepare.

In future years the district will likely add volleyball and some track and field events, and is exploring adding wrestling, football, golf, and Unified Sports.


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