The Burlington School Board, looking ahead to the forthcoming academic year, approved several decisions on Monday to establish esports and girls wrestling teams within the district.
Despite the absence of Board president Deborah Hatteberg, the board collectively consented to job profiles for dedicated coaches for the new esports and ladies wrestling initiatives at Burlington High School.
BHS will subsequently be recruiting head coaches and deputies for ladies wrestling, as well as a mentor for the esports team.
Esports, standing for electronic sports, represents competitive video gaming.
At Monday’s board meeting, Burlington School District’s activities director, Jay Huff, presented the plan for the BHS’s new esports group. This team will participate in three seasons annually: fall, winter, and spring.
Huff further mentioned that the students will engage in two diverse video games per season. Competitions will primarily be online with the occasional in-person event, and BHS already has computer labs being considered for esports activities.
Esports team participants will not need uniforms or equipment but may receive team t-shirts and can fundraise for the team.
Even though esports have not seen statewide approval from the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA), the activities will operate under the Iowa High School Esports Association (IHSEA), which will control scheduling and develop rules for the team.
IHSAA presently permits Iowa Esports teams to play the following games on Nintendo Switch and gaming PCs: Mario Kart 8 DX, Overwatch, Rainbow 6 Siege, Rocket League, SMITE, and Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.
Esports & Costs
While the price tags associated with gaming machines and consoles can be steep, Superintendent Rob Scott put things in perspective mentioning the $375 cost of a football helmet.
According to Huff, he received positive responses from a Google form asking district students about their interest in an esports team and girls wrestling, with 38 students showing eagerness for esports, and 34 indicating interest in girls wrestling.
In similarity with the boys’ program, Huff explained that the girls wrestling program would operate in the same way, just starting two weeks earlier.
Other regional schools have shown interest in allowing their students to join Burlington’s girls wrestling program following the introduction of wrestling for girls as the 11th officially recognized sport in the Iowa Girls High School Athletics Union in the 2022-23 academic year.
Pay Raises for Substitutes
The board unanimously voted to raise the daily pay for substitute teachers from $125 to $150, with board member Joel Sieren opting out of the vote.
Long-term substitutes will see an increase from $180 to $190 after 15 days, with a retroactive pay increase applicable from the first day on the 16th day. After 60 days, the rate will increase from $195 to $200 with retroactive pay applicable from day 61.
Increase in Community Action lease
The board also consented to authorize a potential rent increase for Community Action of Southeast Iowa’s Head Start program at the Corse Early Childhood Center. The annual lease cost will rise from $35,000 to $50,000 for the 2024-25 school year.
According to Greg Reynolds, the district’s business director, the escalation was to cover higher utility and other costs over the last few years.
Early Childhood Center Tuition Hike
Board members also agreed on a $5 increment in the tuition fee at the Corse Early Childhood Center for all students older than 3 years.
Corse Principal Bryan Baker expressed that this is the first bump since the center’s inauguration in 2021 and it will align their charge with other local preschool programs.
Increased Meal Costs
The cost of breakfast and lunch within the school district will also increase. Breakfast cost for elementary and intermediate students will increase to $2.10, and for high schoolers, it will be $2.30. Lunch fees will rise to $2.85 for elementary and intermediate students, and $2.95 for high school students. Adults will be charged $2.85 for breakfast and $4.20 for lunch.
Collaboration for Swimming Program
Lastly, the board consented on a 5-1 vote to a collaboration agreement that allows Notre Dame students to take part in Burlington’s swimming program for a fee of $500 starting 2023-24 school year.
Only one student from Notre Dame has signed up to participate in the swimming program so far for this academic year, Superintendent Scott noted.