Day off to cheer on football team brings some boos

Wednesday, December 2, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

LEBANON -- Glenn Sandgren thinks his son should be tackling his studies in class Friday.

Instead, most of Lebanon City School's 4,400 students will be excused Friday for a "spirit day" in celebration of the high school football team's trip to the state finals in Massillon.

While Mr. Sandgren said he, too, is excited about the game, he doesn't think it merits a day off.

"We are closing our school system so people can attend a football game on Friday," he said. "I believe that represents a pretty poor decision between sports and education."

But district spokeswoman Carole Dorn said the number of parents who called to ask school be canceled Friday far outweighs the number of those who complained about the decision.

"Ideally, we'd have kids in school every day we could," Ms. Dorn said. "With something like this . . . we get far more calls if we didn't call off school. We'd have far more kids probably missing school."

The decision to excuse students -- with the exception of Holbrook Elementary, which will be released an hour early Friday -- was made by Superintendent Robert Harvey after

receiving "a ton of calls," she said.

"This is something that is really community driven," Ms. Dorn said. "We had to decide a couple of things: Do we want to keep kids in school? If we do, do we risk having an unusually low attendance and very few students in the classroom?"

Students who are off Friday will not have to make up the day later because the state mandates there be 178 school days and the district had scheduled 180 days this year.

Holbrook is the exception because teachers used the two extra days this fall for conferences and couldn't afford to take the day off, Ms. Dorn said.

The district did receive calls from parents concerned about class being canceled, but she said they were "far more in the minority" than those who voiced support for the decision. "All the same, I do understand their concerns and think they're legitimate," Ms. Dorn said.

Mr. Sandgren said one of his sons attends Holbrook, so the child must go to school Friday while his brother gets to stay home. "I explained (to them) I thought this was somewhat misguided," he said.

Mr. Sandgren said his sons are active in sports and he is "very proud of the football team."

He had to cancel a business trip because of the announcement, but said he will be glad to work with his son on school projects Friday. Still, he worries about other working parents.

"There are a lot of two-income families out there," he said. "It puts a lot of undue burden on the parents to either have to take a day off work or find some other care for the children."

"Really, when you think about going to the state championships, having a team like we do, where everything seems to be going our way, it's once every 50 years that happens." Ms. Dorn said. "This doesn't come around very often."

About half of the 3,500 available tickets for the game have been sold, said Karen Resetar, secretary for the athletic director's office.

A Warrior football rally will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday in the Lebanon High School gym to welcome home the team.

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