For Immediate Release
New Albany School District
New Albany Schools Plan for Success in Activities and Athletics
The New Albany School District is implementing a comprehensive plan for achievement to help the schools become more competitive in class 4A activities and athletics.
“We have worked over the last several years on a comprehensive plan for the district in academics, and we have seen improvement at all of our schools,” explained Dr. Charles Garrett, New Albany Schools’ Superintendent. “We are taking the same approach now with our activities and athletics.”
“Our students compete in MHSAA Class 4A competitions in band, chorus, debate, and athletics. We want them to have the best opportunity for success in every competition, so we are focusing on the growth and development of our programs,” Garrett added.
As the district programs have grown, needs for better facilities and central coordination of activities and athletics have developed. Coaches and activity directors must work together on cheduling, training, and transportation as they share resources, including student participants and facilities. The achievement plan addresses the need for additional personnel, improvement of facilities, funding requirements, transportation needs, and rules governing all groups competing in MHSAA (Mississippi High School Activities Association) events.
Robert Merritt was named District Activities and Athletics Director in May. He will work full time in that role to implement the improvement plan and organize the athletics and activities program. The district Athletics and Activities Director position is expected to revert to a half time position next year. New Albany High School and New Albany Middle School will maintain their site directors, Bubba Davis and Mike Hearn, who will work with Merritt to coordinate the athletics and activities programs.
Growth in the athletics and activities programs requires the addition of new personnel. One way that the district is addressing this need is by hiring coaches who are also highly qualified teachers in needed subject areas. State mandated PE courses require the addition of a physical education teacher at the high school. He will teach weight lifting, physical education, and life fitness courses in addition to his coaching duties. Other coaches teach English, Social Studies, Math, and Science at both the middle school and high school. Additionally, the district utilizes volunteer assistant coaches; such as Chuck Cooper, who will help with the New Albany High School golf team this year.
The freshman and junior varsity athletics programs will undergo significant changes this year with an increase in the number of coaches. In basketball, the addition of assistant coaches who are full time staff members will allow the JV program to grow to include a full schedule of twelve to fourteen games. In football, separate JV and freshman teams will compete in their own games on Monday nights. The ninth grade program was reinstated this year to allow athletes to compete against players of similar size and ability.
Improvement of the athletic facilities is a key element of the achievement plan. New Albany football fans will see some improvements at Kitchens’ field when the Bulldogs host several area teams in the Fall Football Jamboree on August 24. Larger crowds and a larger high school band have prompted the district to add 150 seats to the stadium. Additionally, through a donation from an area business, a shuttle service will be available to aid the elderly and/or disabled with access to the stadium.
Basketball facilities have also undergone improvements in the last several months. The floor in the practice gym at New Albany High School was refinished in the spring, and the floor in Memorial Gym was refinished over the summer. Training facilities used by all athletes have seen significant improvements over the last year.
Funding for Athletics and Activities comes from several sources; including district funds, booster clubs, and foundation funding. Personnel are paid from the district budget. During difficult budget years the school district cut personnel in several areas including the band and football programs. With full funding this year, the district has been able to hire new personnel to meet the needs of growing programs. Individual booster clubs play a key role in providing needed equipment and support for the various activities and athletics programs.
The Bulldog Foundation was formed this year to provide additional funding for athletic and activities programs in the New Albany School District. The foundation operates much like the education endowment fund. Grants will be awarded to athletics and activities programs through an application process. The Bulldog Foundation will operate in addition to the strong booster clubs which are already in place for the individual programs; creating opportunities for every program to grow and improve to meet the challenges of class 4A competition
Another need that has been addressed through the district plan for activities and athletics is transportation for smaller groups. The New Albany School District purchased a thirty passenger activities and athletics bus that will be used for sports such as golf, tennis, and cross country, and for groups like the debate team and cheerleaders. The new bus will help the district keep regular route busses available for duty during the school day. Also, the district is hoping to move away from the practice of transporting students in cars and lessen the number of times that the district has to ask parents to help with transportation. The new bus can be scheduled for use by other small groups throughout the school district when available.
Finally, the New Albany Schools adopted a handbook of policies for activities and athletics programs that are governed by MHSAA. The handbook sets forth expectations for coaches, directors, and student participants competing in MHSAA governed programs. Included in the policies are standard procedures for use, storage, and inventory of equipment; responsibilities of coaches, directors, and assistants; as well as eligibility and conduct requirements for students. Students, coaches, and directors in the New Albany School District will benefit from the standardization of policies as the athletics and activities programs continue to grow.
To learn more about New Albany athletics and activities programs, please visit our websites. The school district site is www.newalbanyschools.us and the athletics site is www.nabulldogs.com . The websites contain school calendars and athletic schedules, as well as information about the variety of programs offered to students in the New Albany Schools.