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State superintendent weighs in on extra practice proposal

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By Jennifer Smith 
WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jim Phares said he’s looking at the state Secondary Schools Activities Commission’s proposal to expand summer athletic practices from several different viewpoints.

“I’m not going to answer it just as a state superintendent but also as a former teacher, a former coach, former high school principal and a former local superintendent,” he told MetroNews Thursday during a break in the state Board of Education meeting in Charleston.

During his education career Phares coached football, basketball and tennis. He stressed he understands the pros and cons of adding additional weeks during summer break to the practice schedule.

Currently high school sports teams have a three-week window to practice in the summer. The proposal, approved this week by the SSAC Board of Control, would expand the time through most of the summer.

Phares said that can be a good thing.

“I know from my experience as a coach if you can keep them busy they weren’t out doing thing they ought not be doing,”

The superintendent also said he gets the concerns of parents about those extra practices from a health standpoint.

“I can also understand that there can be some research out there that they could have increased injury. They could have some other types of debilitating side effects of just being in practice all the time,” according to Phares.

Even though the SSAC Board of Control has approved the change, the final decision lies with the state Board of Education. Phares predicts a very lively discussion.

“I don’t see this as something that’s going to bypass without some type of controversy or at least some discussion and dialogue on both sides,” Phares predicted.

Even if the state Board of Education approves the SSAC proposal it would not go into effect until, at least, the summer of 2015.