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:
- – 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.
Tip: Click images for a larger view.
All high schools with scholastic-sports teams within Pittsburgh Public Schools have athletic trainers that help to care for the health and wellness of the PPS student-athletes. These athletic trainers are present for practices and competitions. They serve boys-and-girls and work among various venues.
Presently, the existing model for the Athletic Trainers deployed at Pittsburgh Public Schools is great. I love it. It works well. I’ve always been grateful of the support received from the Athletic Trainers. The model for the service delivery provides a huge assets and support for the athletes, coaches, guardians and administrators.
The athletic trainers, with the initials, A.T.C., after their names, are professionals, academically trained and certified. They get continuing education and are hired, managed and evaluated from a central office. The division head for athletics in Pittsburgh Public Schools, Mr. Mike Gavlik. He supervises the service contract for athletic training with UPMC Sports Medicine. The contract details the services rendered so that the school principals and coaches do not need to worry about coverage from the athletic trainers. A well executed, district-wide approach makes great sense. It is efficient and effective. Bravo to you all for such wonderful results.
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh Public Schools, in AQUATICS, a much different model and resulting outcomes are unfolding.
With our swim teams and with our programs at the various PPS swim pools in after-school hours programs, everything is site-based. Site-based aquatic programming isn’t working, IMNSHO (in my not so humble opinion).
Pittsburgh Public Schools (and taxpayers) have 15, indoor, swim pools within our schools. My audit and experiences show that we are lucky to get two-percent of the value in community benefits of our paid-for facilities in OUT-OF-SCHOOL TIME activities.
I am worried about activities, programs, leadership and opportunities offered our kids and the communities at the pools in afternoons, evenings, nights, weekends, holidays, vacations and throughout the weeks of summer.
Most of the time, the pools sit idle. They are closed.
To be clear, what happens in Physical Education in the normal school day is not a concern of this suggested proposal.
Just as UPMC Sports Medicine handles system-wide needs for athletic training, PPS needs a system-wide approach to what happens in the swimming pools beyond the school day.
The engagement for the students, the competitive swimmers, and the communities is suffering and an overhaul of purpose, methods, programming, hiring responsibilities and mission in AQUATICS is needed and can be delivered with an AQUATICS DIRECTOR.
Take these tasks off the backs of the school principals.
Let’s deploy a system and thrive. Let’s train lifeguards, compete around the region, and deliver serious health and wellness benefits.
One of the most simple and direct paths for implementation of this suggestion is to attach AQUATICS to the budding PPS Community Schools network. The new PPS Community Schools program began in the fall of 2017. This trailblazing program that was championed by the PPS School Board before the arrival of the existing superintendent, Dr. Anthony Hamlet, aims to form a model for increased engagement and cooperation among community agencies, school staff, students and families. The first five designated community schools in PPS include three schools with under-utilized swimming pools: Westinghouse, Arsenal, Langley. The PPS Board made a dramatic step to embrace the concept of PPS Community Schools, as a pilot, among five of its schools. These suggestions for AQUATICS go hand-in-hand with the efforts of PPS Community Schools. Let’s make a splash with AQUATICS with PPS Community Schools.
Let’s coordinate human resources among lifeguards, swim instructors, coaches, rec organizations and have an aquatic mission that fits the various facilities and interests of the kids and grows as they improve.
Our students need to know that their devotion and investment into swimming is supported. The un-tapped potential within Pittsburgh’s kids in aquatics is phenomenal. But, we as coaches and administrators, we need to be nimble at the pools and offer excellent programs. Aquatics can be a vital cornerstone for PPS Community Schools.
These programs can pull their own weight financially. Creative and inspiring leadership coupled with important partnerships can make the AQUATICS programs sustainable.
To implement the vision, the Administration and PPS Board negotiators should carve out AQUATICS from the realm of the PFT Contract. Assigning coaching duties, instructors and lifeguards need to be fluid and flexible, coordinated and well deployed. Accountability, certifications, and alignments to systems, squads and developmental pathways need to make sense.
Go figure: Last year, a swim meet between Obama and Allderdice as impossible to schedule.
A four-fold increase in both quantity and quality is expected as a first-year bump.
In 2017, PPS has about 250 kids who swim. With the pools we have, PPS could have 1,000+ kids calling themselves swimmers.
Going swimming and being a swimmer are different.
We want to turn around the opportunities so our kids become:
- scholarship student-athletes,
- employed at the pools,
- competitors with anyone, and
- know how to play well with others.
Progress should happen in 2018. Let’s make it happen. Your reactions in the comments below are welcome.
One of our staff members at Swim & Water Polo on the Northside, Tan, sent home a message to the Pittsburgh Summer Dreamers. He left camp after a few weeks for a trip to Europe to play, train and better condition himself in the sport of water polo.
Tan is a student at North Allegheny and also plays with Tiger Water Polo.
Earlier in the summer, at the University of Pittsburgh, we got to watch Tan play at the Pittsburgh Combine event. Here is one of his plays. He is wearing the dark cap and is playing offense, the hole-set position.
Join in the fun:
6 pm to 7:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays, weather permitting and while the pools are open, at Citiparks’ Ammon Rec Center Outdoor Pool, corner of Bedford Ave and Memory Lane, Hill District.
11 am to 2 pm on Tuesday, August 8, at The Pittsburgh Project, Charles Street, Northside.
See the calendar for other events too!post-dreamers-handout
The measure I put forth to council was just passed by Pittsburgh’s City Council and it now heads to the mayor for his signature before going to Department of Elections of Allegheny County.
City employees, including those working as police, firefighers, EMS, public works, and even members of city council, would be able to applicants for part-time coaching positions.2017-1583 City Employees - Coaching
Thanks Natalia for advancing this in council for me.
This measured reply surfaced in response to Allderdice swim coaching saga in the 2016-17 season.
Version 2. If you want the edition of the slide deck in iOS’s Keynote, just ask.
Tip: Click the zoom box so that the slides fill your entire screen. Comments, questions and discussions welcome, in person or leave a note below.
More discussion about the role of aquatics as part of PPS Community Schools can occur at 4:40 pm on Monday, August 21, as part of the #WeArePPS event at Langley. We’ll be in the resource area. See more insights at the other posting.