Western Wayne’s school board members said there is no plan afoot to discontinue the Lincoln Middle/High School football program.

All five members of the school board and Superintendent Andy Stover told a crowd at the Nov. 8 board meeting that information posted on social media was wrong. Stover said that the football coach, Danny Capps, had resigned, and that the school is looking for a new coach.

Several LMHS football players, some parents and others concerned about the program — about 20 in all — attended the meeting.

Joe Lookabaugh, an LHS alumnus who played on the football team, said he came to hear answers from the board about the program’s future. He had heard the school might discontinue it or might make it strictly junior varsity and that the Tri-Eastern Conference had discussed dropping Lincoln from its football schedule.

All of that is wrong, said Board President Alan Austin, who urged people to verify information before posting it on social media.

Capps, LHS football coach in 2022 and 2023, submitted his resignation as coach, Stover said. The Golden Eagles football team went 1-16 in his two years, canceling two games this year.

Jim Bogue, a coach in the school program and other youth sports for 25 years, said a large part of the program’s problem is accountability. Coaches can’t field a good team when parents don’t insist their children do what’s necessary.

“Until you’re willing to give up thousands of hours and come up and coach, you’ll never know what it takes to get these kids to come out,” he said.

He added that a lot of kids who come to the weight room don’t attend practice. “Where were they? Down in their basement playing on their phones.”

The issue, he said, goes well beyond football. The community needs to be involved with schools instead of showing up to meetings only when there is a problem.

The football discussion started with remarks during the board’s Oct. 12 meeting. Jim Antle, a citizen who regularly attends board meetings, reminded the board that board member Phil Pflum had said two years ago that the board should discuss the football program. Later in that meeting, Pflum renewed his call for discussion.

Last Wednesday, Pflum said his comment was not a call to discontinue the program, only to discuss its future. Of last Wednesday’s turnout, he said, “This is the kind of response I was hoping to get when I made that comment.” 

Board member Brent Fortman said, “We’re going to look for a coach who is a motivator, a rah-rah kind of guy” who would recruit fifth and sixth graders into a feeder program. He encouraged high school players to recruit younger players.

Bear Ervin, an LHS player, asked the board to consider getting input on coach selection from team members.

Other business

Stover reported that work is underway to increase the district’s support for high-achieving students, which is one of the priorities of a strategic plan approved in 2022-23. A 21-member broad-based planning committee was to start working Nov. 9 on how to provide more classes for high-ability students in middle and high school grades.

Chad Lieberman, director of titles and grants, said Western Wayne schools will receive a $13,500 grant for parent-family support. Workshops starting in January will offer parents ways to better support students at home.

LMHS Principal Renee Lakes said students in ag class are making decorative Christmas trees of wood salvaged from the old gym floor. They will be available for purchase at the Community Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov. 16.

The board ratified the new teacher contract it discussed on Oct. 12. It raises base pay for starting teachers to $42,000, an increase from $40,000. Experienced teachers will get a 7% increase. Some teachers will get more because they did not receive raises in other years, instead receiving a one-time stipend to supplement their pay.

The board approved 3% pay raises for most noncertified staff, except cafeteria workers who already received a raise.

Part-time teacher aides will get a 4.8% raise to $13 an hour, and special education aides will receive a 12.9% raise, to $14 an hour.

Personnel actions are listed.

  • Certified staff hires: Matthew Truesdell, elementary school counselor; Kami Laymon, kindergarten teacher; Brenda Mateos, LMHS English teacher; Daria Sturgis, Key Club sponsor.
  • Noncertified staff hires: Miranda Grimm, kindergarten special ed aide; Jerry Ingalls, LMHS special ed aide; Jennifer Huddleston and Randi Smith, cafeteria.
  • Coaching hires: Danny Capps and Travis Amyx, wrestling assistant coaches.
  • Departures: Lauren Warner, LMHS English teacher; Chloe Beaty, kindergarten teacher; Greg Seidner, varsity volleyball coach; Danny Capps, varsity football coach; Dylan Miller, middle school football assistant coach.

The board’s next regular meeting will be at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 13, in Room 80 at LMHS, 205 E. Parkway Drive, Cambridge City. The public may attend.

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A version of this article appeared in the November 15 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Bob Hansen is a reporter for the Western Wayne News.