By Vanesa Brashier, email@example.com
The contract for Coach Stan Howard, the Tarkington ISD athletic director, will not be extended for another two years. The school board Tuesday night, Jan. 22, failed to reach enough votes for the contract extension with only President Grant Cook and Trustee Marcus King voting in favor of it.
Parents in Tarkington athletic programs packed the boardroom with many signing up to address the board in public comments. The parents were divided with some for and some against Howard continuing in his role as athletic director and head football coach.
For brevity of time, only three in favor and three in opposition were allowed to address the board during public comments. Supporters of Howard asked the board to give him more time, suggesting that Tarkington’s history of changing athletic directors every three years, on average, has not helped the football team succeed.
Josh Holt, a parent of a high school athlete, appeared with four other men in support of Howard. Holt pointed to the district’s history over the last 64 years.
“We’ve had 179 wins, 440 losses and 14 ties. That’s a 28 percent winning percentage,” Holt said. “We have won one district title, had 11 winless seasons, 10 winning seasons where we went 6-4 and have four playoff appearances,” Holt said. “In this time, we’ve had 19 [head football] coaches. Four of the coaches were allowed to coach more than three years in a row. That’s not a successful plan or blueprint for a successful program. As a matter of fact, this blueprint is insanity. It’s doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.”
Another parent, Stephen Herndon, told the trustees that athletes are sitting out their seasons because they refuse to play for certain coaches who are under Howard as athletic director.
“Some athletes have played a sport since childhood. They love the game but after one season under the current coaching staff have refused to play the any more. That’s disheartening. If I was that coach, I would be doing a self-evaluation and asking myself what have I done to make these athletes feel this way toward me,” Herndon said.
He and others were outraged that students had reportedly been asked by some coaching staff to sign a petition to keep Howard as AD.
“How was that legal? How was that ethical? How was that moral? In my opinion, it was very inappropriate. My last question to you board members is this, ‘How long will we, as a community, bail water before we abandon a sinking ship?'” he said.
After hearing concerns from the community, board members one by one expressed how they came to a decision about the AD’s contract.
Trustee Marcus King admitted that mistakes had been made by the athletic director but felt he should be given an opportunity to correct them through a performance improvement plan.
“When I look at the job description and duties, and all the things he is responsible for, I see a lot of success there. I see a lot of wins there. I can’t just focus on the win column,” King said.
Trustee Paige Bostwick, a product of the Tarkington athletic programs who went on to play at the college level, said she was put off by the petition that had been circulated around schools leading up to the board meeting.
“Our coaches are writing letters and sending them to kids. That just threw everything out for me. You cannot bring kids into an adult issue,” she said.
The school board will meet on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 4 p.m., to further discuss Howard’s contract.