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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Levy failure could hurt Evergreen’s middle school sports, high school athletic directors jobs

Significant impacts expected if voters reject Educational Programs and Operations levy again April 26

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: April 20, 2022, 10:56am

Major cuts in Evergreen Public Schools will have significant impacts on high school and middle school sports if voters reject the district’s levy for a second time this year.

Should the double-levy fail April 26, the district will eliminate roughly $30 million next school year in student programs, staffing and services districtwide. An additional $20 million will be cut in 2023-24. 

For athletics, anticipated cuts include the athletic director jobs at Evergreen, Heritage, Mountain View and Union high schools, reducing the number of high school sub-varsity teams, and eliminating middle school sports. 

Interim Superintendent John Boyd called the district’s possible eliminations and reductions across the board “gut-wrenching” during a 25-minute presentation at Tuesday’s school board meeting. He informed staff of the budget plans in two all-staff emails Friday. 

“You can’t get to those large numbers with small cuts,” Boyd said Tuesday night. “It’s significant and it has to be a lot. … All of the things up here were taken into consideration and a very difficult task of coming to these recommendations.”

About 11 percent of the district’s annual budget to fund K-12 basic education comes from levy dollars — money that helps make up for the shortage of state support for public schools. In February, Evergreen voters rejected the three-year replacement Educational Programs and Operations levy that would’ve raised $150 million over the next three years. 

Levy dollars fund extracurricular activities, including high school and middle school sports. The district currently offers football, basketball, soccer, track and field, cross country, volleyball and wrestling at its six middle schools — and would become Clark County’s lone district to not offer middle school sports if the levy fails. 

District athletic director Cale Piland said middle school sports are some students’ only access to athletics. Evergreen is back offering all sports again after holding just middle school track and field last spring because of COVID-19. 

“If that were to go away,” he said, “it would just be heartbreaking. And then there would be ramifications down the road because you’d have kids getting to the high schools and the first opportunity they have to access organized athletics is in the ninth grade.”

Unlike neighboring Vancouver and Battle Ground districts, which have associate principals tagged as athletic directors, Evergreen employs full-time athletic directors at each of its comprehensive high schools. 

So, how can those high schools run daily athletics operations without an athletic director? 

“It will definitely be a challenge,” Piland said.

Eliminating the athletic director jobs comes with an additional twist for Evergreen, Mountain View and Union because Christian Swain at Evergreen, Adam Mathieson at Mountain View and Rory Rosenbach at Union are also the schools’ head football coaches. 

Extracurricular coaching contracts are separate from administrative contracts. While no high school varsity sports programs will be impacted by the levy vote, Piland said he’s bracing for possible resignations from those football coaches in the event they’re out of a full-time job and find employment elsewhere that takes them away from coaching in the district. 

Evergreen paid its head football coaches $8,508 for the 2021 season. 

“We would hope and gladly want them to continue in their roles as head football coaches,” Piland said. “But also from a practical standpoint, nobody, at least in the state of Washington, gets into just being a high school coach knowing that’s going to support their livelihood. I think it would be a pretty logical assumption that they would be seeking employment elsewhere, which if that allowed them to continue coaching, great, and we would want that. But also if it didn’t, that would be understandable. 

“When you look at those three guys, I feel like we have the three of the best head coaches in the state of Washington and to lose them would definitely have a significant impact on those programs.”