Sadly, my name was not on the list to speak at public comment of 2/19/2018. I had called, but I didn’t answer that follow-up / return call, as that is part of the normal process. Oh well. Here is what I wanted to share.
Dear Superintendent, Administrators and PPS Board Members
I’m Mark Rauterkus, I reside on the South Side. My children are PPS graduates. My father is a PPS retired teacher, and we remember the long teachers strike in the 70s. Presently, I am the longest-serving varsity swim coach for PPS.
Earlier this month I loved seeing a social media mention from Superintendent Hamlet about a swimmer, Noah Jamison. He is a junior on the boys team at Obama where I am the coach. He swam to the #1 ranking in the Class AA in all of the WPIAL in the 500 free. That in-season ranking slipped to second two weeks later. But more alarming was disappearance of the social media mention. Humm. I don’t want to disappear. I don’t wish to go away. You’re stuck with me, one way or another.
New business cards
At the first of the year I entered a new role, I’m the first executive director for a national nonprofit, SKWIM USA dot org. This opportunity can bring our city kids new resources.
The other day, (9/16/18), I had a wonderful meeting with David May Stein and LouAnn Ross concerning my hopes of expanding AQUATICS within PPS Community Schools.
I’d love it if the board and administrators would check out a few concept maps of sports and my vision of aquatics. I presented these as an invited speaker at a Rotary Club meeting (2/19/18) and to the Pacific Swim Coaches Clinic in Napa, California, (1/5/19). (See end of this post.)
Teachers’ Contract Negotiations
I was excited to read an update that COACHING is part of the bargaining discussions among the PFT and the district. I’m an outsider and do not have a clear understanding as to what was discussed and pitched, nor agreed to. Things might be fluid and pending. Plus, I couldn’t ascertain any details in the released blurb. But, I do know a few things about coaching in PPS.
Perhaps there is a 12% raise?
What about playoff pay?
Really needs are for nimble staffing adjustments. When new sports emerge and students show interest, such as with water polo, and we’re told, “we can’t do that because it is not in the teachers contract.” Ugh. That’s not such a “great thing.”
When Dr. John Thompson was the PPS superintendent, he told concerned citizens that in the next PFT contract, PPS sports coaches would be removed from the scope of the PFT contract. That was about 16 years ago. It didn’t happened. Serious discussions about PPS sports and its coaching are not new.
As we look to use the pools for inspiring programs, it is nearly impossible to be a PPS teacher while coaching and operating high-quality programs in:
- In-service days,
- Vacation days,
- Before school for 6 AM practices, and
- Throughout the summers.
Of course, swim coaches leading school teams have plenty of influence with student-athletes. The school-team coaches should sustain their coaching with year-long roles within aquatics for the sake of the developing athletes.
As we “expect great things” with aquatics, school-based programs need to be part of a network and coordinated with community opportunities. With our population base, we need more planning and more integration to become highly competitive.
Consider the upcoming swim championship schedule. The WPIAL meet occurs on two days, a Thursday and Friday. The trip to the Pennsylvania State Swim Meet (PIAA) absorbs three days with a midnight return from Lewisburg. This year I hope to go to these meets for the 9th consecutive year. Often, I am the only one representing PPS at these high-level meets.
Since I am not a PPS teacher, when I coach at these meets, substitutes are not needed for my replacement. I am a coach, not a teacher. I am free to support our swimmers at the various times, without conflicts of other teaching duties. Meanwhile, others who are PPS teachers (and PPS aids) need to be removed from their day-time students to coach a small number of elite swimmers.
Contract governs third-party interests
The PFT contract dictates swim coaching roles, and I am not a PFT member. Outside coaches don’t have a seat at the table. Often the outside coaches are not even considered PPS EMPLOYEES. Go figure.
Remove all swim coaches from the scope of the PFT contract. Better to remove all athletic coaching positions from the PFT contract – as that has been done in many other districts. Then we can get to the serious work of expecting great things with AQUATICS.
Next tweet soon!
Board members, thanks for listening. The next steps await. Doctor Hamlet, I hope to forward you tweets from the podium again so you can continue to showcase our PPS swimmers and coaches.
Tip: Click images for a larger view.
First, “We are hiring.”
Second, “Let’s go swimming.”
Mash those above expressions together, and you can begin to make your life as exciting as mine!
Time to get back into the water!
After-school aquatic fun with Coach Mark begins this week.
Bring your swim suit and show up to the Obama swim pool after school, every day except Fridays.
Middle School at 4 pm to 5 pm, then activity bus.
High School students from 5 pm to 7 pm.
Adults and community programs at 7:30 to 9 pm on Mondays & Wednesdays.
All abilities welcome. Even if you don’t know how to swim,
we’ll teach you.
We’ll play water polo, SKWIM, and refine our swimming strokes, dives, flip turns and gain plenty of fitness.
Extra Coaching and game days: Saturday Swim School, Oliver HS pool,
2323 Brighton Road, Northside from 11:30 am to 1 pm.
Coach’s contact: Mark@Rauterkus.com 412-298-3432 CLOH.org
Additional background statement created at the Saturday Swim School.
Agenda of Standing Committee Meeting, June 7, 2017
Ordinance amending and supplementing the Pittsburgh Home Rule Charter, Article VII - Personnel, Section 707 - Multiple Employment Prohibited, by adding a new subsction f which will allow City employees being able to be scholastic sports coaches in part-time positions with Pittsburgh Public Schools.
The above text was put on hold for review of the City’s Law Department. Further text is not yet available. Expected action would be a change by substitution to make the amendment f as a ballot question at the next city-wide election.
Within Pittsburgh Public Schools, there is no shortage of athletic coaches.
Sead Niksic, 11th grade, Obama Academy student, won the 100 backstroke in WPIAL Championships, class AA, today (3/3/17) at Pitt’s Trees Hall, in a record time of 51.29. He won the event by a four-second margin. This was his first WPIAL title in the backstroke.
Last year, Sead was the first student from any Pittsburgh Public Schools in any sport to get a gold-medal in an individual WPIAL event when he won the 100 yard fly as a sophomore. In the 2017 100 fly, Sead went faster then the WPIAL record, but finished in second place.
This year, Obama swimmers can boast to have the city’s first WPIAL record breaker in an individual event in any sport. The boys swim team at Obama claimed the first city WPIAL section title in any sport back in 2013, the first year some city teams were able to compete in the WPIAL, PIAA District 7, rather than District 8, often called “The City League.”
Sead will swim the 100 fly and the 100 back in the 2017 PIAA Class AA Championships in two weeks at Bucknell University. This year Sead will be joined at states by his sister, Amila Niksic, an Obama Academy freshman, as she finished second in the 100 backstroke, improving by more than four seconds and moving to the silver medal from the 10th-place seed. Her time was 1:00.81.
A third Obama swimmer, Noah Jamison, 10th grader, did not qualify with an automatic entry to the PIAA Meet, but his podium finishes in both the 200 IM and the 500 free (also a school record), might be fast enough to earn an at-large entry to the PIAA Championships.
Noah dropped from 5:09.42 seed time (11th) to 4:54.01, and to a possible PIAA invite. At-large invites to PIAA are a couple days away. In 2016, as a freshman, Noah’s time in the 500 free in 2016 was 5:12.92. In 2017, Noah’s time in the 500 free beat the school record that was established by Erik Rauterkus more than four years ago. Erik is the oldest son of Obama’s Coach, Mark Rauterkus. Erik competed at the PIAA meet four consecutive years and then went on to swim at Swarthmore College and is due to graduate college in May, 2017.
Niksic, Jamison, David Donehue, 11, Sci-Tech, and Krishnan Alagar, 11, home-schooled, made up the squad’s 200 medley relay and set a new school record. The four also got points in the 400 free and put Obama’s boys team into the top 10 among AA teams.
This year marks the the 9th consecutive year that at least one swimmer from Pittsburgh Public Schools qualified to compete in the PIAA Championships under the direction of Coach Mark Rauterkus — formerly Schenley and presently Obama. Rauterkus also leads the Swim & Water Polo activities with PPS Summer Dreamers and after-school water polo programs at Westinghouse, Arsenal, Allegheny and Obama.
View a collection of swim races from this year’s championships at Swim.CLOH.org.
Get a new shirt for $5.