District announces activities to be merged

The Juneau School District has decided which activities at its two traditional high schools will be merged starting next school year. Participants in wrestling, tennis, drama debate and forensics, and possibly dance will be housed under one roof next fall, at either Juneau-Douglas High School and Thunder Mountain High School.

Wrestling and DDF programs at JDHS will be cut and students will be invited to try out for TMHS’ programs. Tennis players from TMHS will be invited to try out for JDHS’ team (TMHS currently doesn’t have a tennis program).

If TMHS Dance can’t identify a qualified coach within the timeline specified by the Juneau Educators Association, their program will be consolidated with JDHS’.

Director of Student Services Bridget Weiss released the announcement Wednesday after securing approval from ASAA on Friday. Weiss met with principals and athletic directors to identify programs and communicate with coaches and the school board before making any decisions.

Juneau’s high school athletics and activities have been operating with “one, if not both arms tied behind their back,” according to Weiss, and changes needed to be made. Ongoing school district budget pressures have made identifying efficiencies in Juneau’s extracurriculars a necessity.

Weiss said there are other programs that could have brought more “bang for their buck” if consolidated, but there are many moving parts to deciding which programs to consolidate, including upending region and conference identifications. She also added that the idea was to lay the groundwork for merging bigger programs down the line, and that the district was trying to “dip its toes in the water” and not try to do everything at once.

The school district will revisit the idea in the fall and assess whether they want to continue to pursue the merger past the one-year waiver granted by ASAA.