At their monthly meeting on January 20th, the Ballinger ISD school board discussed the possibility of adding volleyball to the school district to give girls more options to participate in sports.

Ballinger ISD superintendent Jeff Butts presented information at the meeting and estimates that volleyball would cost the district approximately $206,036. Some of the costs associated with starting a volleyball program include uniforms for $3600. The uniforms would be on a 3-year cycle so and therefore not be a cost every year. Shoes would run the district approximately $1,2000; workout gear for varsity and JV/freshmen would be $1,200. Workout gear for the junior high would come to $1,600. The district would also spend around $3,280 on volleyballs. The startup includes the gymnasiums that would need to be set up for volleyball which includes $20,000 for striping; $700 for ball carriers; $15,200 for a net system and $3,600 for floor insets. Butts estimates that the travel costs for volleyball would run around $16,000 per year.

The numbers that Butts supplied come out to $45,150 for the one-time start up. Additionally, they would look to hire a volleyball head coach, preferably with at least 10 years experience. The coach’s salary would be $66,824. An assistant head coach’s salary would be $58,269. The junior high head coach would earn $50,303. Butts says that the yearly supply costs would run $14,630 and the aforementioned travel costs of $16,000. All together it comes up to $206,026. Ballinger High School girls basketball coach Jerry McSherry, who has over 500 wins, attended the meeting and spoke about hiring an experienced volleyball coach, “It’s very tough to get a tenured volleyball coach.”

According to Butts, the head coach would not be expected to also be a teacher. Butts explained why the coach would not be a teacher, “We’re not going to hire someone to come here and get this program off the ground and also expect them to be a teacher. If we start this program and go 0-15 for a couple of seasons, the kids will lose interest in it and it’ll go away. When you lose that many games, kids start making jokes and it makes kids not want to be part of the program. We don’t want our kids to be getting embarrassed.” Butts also pointed out, “I’m not against bringing in any program that benefits our kids.”

Ballinger High School athletic director Chuck Lipsey was also at the meeting and spoke about expectations, “We should play 2 to 3 years on a sub-varsity level. We don’t want to throw the kids into a varsity schedule. If we do, we’ll have kids quit because the team will always be getting beat.”

Butts said that the Ballinger Youth Sports Association is going to start a volleyball program this fall and that will help with teaching the kids the fundamentals and help with their conditioning, “I’m very encouraged that BYSA is going to get volleyball started.”

The funding is something that the board would have to address before starting the program. Butts said that they tax rate was $1.17 last year. This year it dropped to $1.06 and next year it will drop to $1.05. Butts said that this cost the school district between $350,000 and $400,000, “I want to tell the board that we can pay for this. I want to be able to tell them that with confidence. I can’t tell you that we can afford this at this time. But, if y’all (school board) vote this thing in, we’re going to make it happen. I want everyone to understand that we take our job very seriously. When we put in a new program, we want the kids to be the best that they can be. We need to give them the best opportunity to make that happen.”

The discussion about implementing a volleyball program went on for about 90 minutes. Board member Dale Halfmann said that he had received calls about it, “The majority of the people who have contacted me are in favor of a volleyball program.”

Ultimately it was decided by the board to table the idea until a committee can have a public meeting and receive input from the community. They moved the February board meeting from February 10th to February 17th so that they’ll have time to meet with the community before the next board meeting. Butts said that February is when they need to begin looking for a coach if they choose to implement the program. When the date for the public meeting is decided, the Runnels County Register will post the information on our Facebook page and website.

In other news, the board voted to take $145,000 from the fund balance to pay for repairs to the little league field, fencing and the track. The track improvement will cost $75,769.81. The repairs to the little league field will run $23,346.44. The fencing to go around the track will cost $22,620.63. Butts said that they would need to have the fence around the track repaired before the track is resurfaced to protect it. Of that amount, $119,694 is covered by insurance. The insurance has not paid at this time and the district needs to go ahead and get the work done.

Butts said that work is expected to begin on the varsity baseball field soon. He explained why it’s taking so long, “To repair something over $50,000 requires an engineer. To repair something over $100,000 requires an architect. Then it goes to the attorney. Then the school board decides on a delivery method and the planning process begins.” Baseball practice will begin on January 31st and Butts said that they expect to have a temporary fence and temporary backstop in place by then. March 24th was going to be the first home game but Wall agreed to flop the dates and so now Wall will host that game and the next game between the two schools that would have been played at Wall, will be played at Ballinger. Lipsey said that he had been in contact with other schools as well, “If our own field is not ready for our home games, I’ve spoken to some schools who will let us play our home games at their field. Wall has said that if they don’t have a home game, that we can use their field for home games.”

Butts commented about the work and the process, “I’m pleased with the progress that we’re having on that field. We have one of the best groundskeepers in the business and things are moving along.”

The track company is scheduled to resurface the track on January 22nd. The stands and press box will also be repaired, “Our goal is to provide a venue for our kids to be successful.”

A poll on the Runnels County Register Facebook page received 558 votes with 510 votes (91%) in favor of bringing volleyball to BISD and 48 against it.

In other news at the board meeting, junior high principal Leslie Griffis said that 24 students tried out for the All-Region band and that 16 were selected. Overall approximately 400 kids in the region tried out for the All-Region band. There were 4 of the students at the board meeting who received certificates for being selected. The students who attended the board meeting were: Anna Lopez, Alexis Gonzales, Ayden Escobar and Ernest Escobar.

One student graduated from Flex School. Alyssa Roe received her diploma from high school principal Ryan Knickerbocker, who spoke of her graduation, “Alyssa took an alternate route for graduation. We’re very proud of her. It’s our job as a district to work with the students and family to make the student successful. Public school isn’t for some students and homeschool may not be for others. Alyssa needed 15 credits to graduate and when she came to us we worked out how to make that happen for her.”