Some high school sports, activities may merge

Juneau now has two high schools, but some of its sports and activities may soon merge.

At its board of directors meeting in Craig on Monday, Region V representatives approved a plan for Juneau’s high schools to combine four Alaska Scholastic Activities Association sports and activities, according to Juneau School District chief of staff Kristin Bartlett.

Director of Student Services Bridget Weiss submitted a letter requesting permission for a one-year trial period to co-operate four Juneau sports and activities. ASAA’s board of directors approved her request on Friday.

The plan would allow students from Thunder Mountain High School and Juneau-Douglas High School to combine four teams and activities while remaining eligible for ASAA sanctioned competitions and events.

TMHS’ dance team called an emergency meeting Thursday to inform dancers and parents that the team would be dissolved and combined with JDHS.

Several parents reached out to the Empire via social media late Thursday to share their concerns.

“We have just been notified that the TMHS Dance Team is being disolved and they are going to have one team and it will be stationed out of JDHS and will be called a JDHS Dance Team,” wrote one parent.

Says another: “This is the beginning of the end for high school teams. … We were told that there will no longer be a Thunder Mountain High School Dance Team beginning with next school year.”

TMHS athletic director Jake Jacoby could not confirm this when reached for comment Friday. According to Bartlett, TMHS is moving forward with its recruitment of dance team coaches for the upcoming season.

Principals and athletic directors from both schools haven’t decided which teams and activities to combine, but Jacoby said if they decide to act on the one-year waiver, two programs from each school could be combined. Athletic directors and principals from both high schools will sit down Monday to decide if and when changes will be made.

Participation numbers, funding abilities, coaching quality and program scheduling commitments will factor into what programs may be combined.

The next step in the process, after Monday’s meeting between Weiss, school principals and athletic directors, will be to open discussions with coaches, teachers, students, parents and booster clubs. The Juneau School Board will also be involved in the process.

During a period of extended cuts to the school district’s budget, Bartlett said the district is doing its best to ensure they can support as many students and activities as possible, and this is just one option among many the district has floated.

She added that other districts in the state are facing similar problems, and Southeast Alaska has a particularly hard time due to its distance from other 4A schools.