Public statement, not delivered, to the PPS Board & Administration, except with email and this posting

Housekeeping update:

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.

Citizens give public comment to board and administrators at Pittsburgh Public Schools.

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.

Recent meeting

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.

Concept Maps

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.

Splashing ahead

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:

  • – Afternoons,
  • – Evenings,
  • – Nights,
  • – Weekends,
  • – Holidays,
  • – 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.

Concept Maps

Tip: Click images for a larger view.



Sweet spot.

Happy New Year. Here comes 2018.

CLOH .org = Caring, Loving, Open, Honest.

On this first day of the new year, let’s consider the first concept, CARING.

Comment from Kevin DeForrest via a Facebook post.

That’s a contract. “If you _____, then I’ll ______.” A covenant, on the other hand, says “I will _______ no matter what you do.” Caring is covenantal, not contractual.

Dictionary for convental: Of or pertaining to a covenant.

covenant (from Websters)

    • a binding and solemn agreement to do or keep from doing a specified thing; compact
    • an agreement among members of a church to defend and maintain its doctrines, polity, and faith
      • [C-] an agreement of Presbyterians in Scotland in 1638 to oppose episcopacy
        also called National Covenant
      • [C-] an agreement between the parliaments of Scotland and England in 1643 to extend and preserve Presbyterianism
        also called Solemn League and Covenant


    • a formal, sealed contract
    • a clause of such a contract
    • a suit for damages for violation of such a contract


  • the promise made by God to humanity and the relationship it established, as described in the Bible


We have been doing some “money dives” too — where a hand-full of pennies are tossed in the pool and the kids race to get them back into their team’s bank. Rules change. On day one, only one coin per person at any given time. Then the other day it was everyone for themselves. Still one had to deliver the coins into the bank before it closed — generally open only for 90-seconds.

Treading too

Video show off from Camp King, Squads Voyageurs and Wind Cave


Includes: Mia, Terrance, Terry, Imani, William, Donovan, Brooke.



Winning a swim race!

N swimming with underwater view


Cameron and some others

Damian doing butterfly

Damien getting a pull on his underwater pushoff in the streamline by coach.

Surf around and see some other swimmers at