Trustees of the Delano Joint Union High School District will have about a month to mull over what voting position they will take in a request from two Cesar E. Chavez High School freshmen girls in regard to the district’s stance in athletic transfers. There are also other students in the district affected by the one-year sit-out period.

About eight girls wearing “Let Us Play” shirts had appeared at the board’s July 30 meeting, and all spoke requesting a change in district rules to allow student athletes attending schools outside their assigned school’s boundaries to participate immediately. The current rule requires that athletes with non-move situations must sit out one year. Two of the girls also made presentations at the Aug. 20 board meeting.

The requests by the two came after a powerpoint presentation moderated by Robert F. Kennedy High administrator Les Lucas Jr., a former athletic director and coach at Kennedy.

Lucas presented information on the district’s current policy as well as the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) policy and the policy of the Kern High School District. Lucas also summarized policies in school districts of Porterville, Tulare, Visalia and Hanford.

Since Cesar Chavez and Kennedy high schools began in the early 2000s, following Delano High which opened in 1911, Lucas said that in recent years there has been parity in most sports with schools also going through cycles. He showed figures which gave records of school varsity teams in football and volleyball and also athletic participation figures for boys and girls for all three high schools in recent years.

The conclusion was that the district’s policy had been “working” over the years, but he also added in his message to trustees that they have the power to eliminate or modify the policy.

Lucas’ presentation was a synopsis of positions of athletic directors of the three high schools. Each spoke briefly with the longest message by Delano High athletic director Albino Duran, whose school has had the most difficult task in achieving strong records in sports because of its assignment to a very competitive East Yosemite League.

Records at the varsity level in the EYL, said Duran, have not been very good, and many young athletes, rather than taking on the challenge of the EYL, would prefer to move to schools whose records have been better.

If the one-year sit-out period was removed by the board, Duran said that Delano High’s numbers in each sport would decrease, meaning that some levels in each sport would have to be eliminated.

Delano High alumna Valerie Rodarte, Kennedy’s athletic director, said she had also been on staff at Cesar Chavez and saw all aspects of the situation. Rodarte said she viewed continuance of the current policy as best for the district, as did Jim McConnell, athletic director at Chavez High.

When the school board meets again in September, the board could reaffirm the current policy, modify the policy or eliminate the policy entirely.

In my opinion, Delano High School would be the “loser” in the decision if Delano Joint Union High School trustees allow students to switch high schools or to enter as freshmen in any of the three local public high schools. Past policy has made students sit out a year before being eligible for athletics.

About a dozen students in early August spoke before trustees and pleaded with trustees to void the sit-out period. Their reasons were many.

Most reasons in reality are to attend a school where their friends are, go to a school to keep together a team from a middle school or to keep together a “travel” team. Other reasons are to play for a certain coach they have played for or heard about or not play for another coach at the school in the area where they reside. One “reason” I heard about was a sophomore girl wanting to move to another high school to be with her boyfriend.

Kennedy football success has attracted many students who want to be part of the football program or just the student body that enjoys being in a winning climate.

Cesar Chavez has an outstanding band program, excellent facilities and maybe some of the coaches are more “fun” to play for or more competent. Who knows?

In the last three years Delano boys’ tennis has won two East Yosemite League championships and tied for another.

I don’t recall any other sport where Delano High has even finished in the top half of the league for many years though the Tiger football team of 2017 was 3-2 in the EYL, following five losing seasons in the EYL in football.

Prospects are tough for Delano with the other five high schools in the league having higher enrollments. Four of the schools are near 2,000 students with Mission Oak, which has also struggled, having maybe 100 more students than Delano, which had 1,409 to start the school year..

This school year and next school year Delano is “locked in” to the EYL. The last time league realignment came up, Dinuba, with about 2,000 students, did not want to be moved to the EYL, and in order to keep a six-team league, Delano was again assigned to the league.

Delano High would like to move to the South Sequoia League to join Chavez, which has 1,537 students, and Kennedy with 1,287. Enrollment at Delano High would be in about the middle of the SSL schools. Arvin is the largest with something like 2,500 students.

It’s questionable whether other SSL schools would want a third Delano school in the league that might help Delano schools dominate league decisions.

Many contend that allowing students to play anywhere is a good idea and one followed by the Kern High School District. That district probably dropped the ruling because it became almost impossible to enforce the rule.

I recall some three or four years ago reading an article quoting a senior basketball star at one of the Bakersfield schools. He compared the championship team of his senior season with teams he played for at one school as a freshman, a different school as a sophomore and a third high school as a junior.

It’s unfortunate that many youth are more interested in “shopping” for a high school that fits their desires for a sport rather than for a good education.

In my view, administrators at any school should before granting requests for students to go elsewhere determine the real reasons behind the desire for a transfer.

In some cases nothing can be done about the desire to leave, but there may be concerns that a school should try to address.

Schools are not allowed to “recruit,” or so they are not supposed to, but there are programs and some activities that can be put in place that will help attract students and parents, especially those entering as freshmen.

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The State of the City and awards event sponsored by the Delano Chamber of Commerce has been postponed. The event was to take place Sept. 5.

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At a recent meeting of Delano’s Community Alliance committee, the city of Delano was the host at the Civic Center, and Mayor Joe Aguirre made a presentation about the Delano Animal Shelter.

There was even a dog brought in during the talk—by city clerk Ricardo Chavez—and occasionally the dog even barked its approval of what the mayor was saying.

Aguirre encouraged the public to “come visit” the facility and explained how the public could “adopt” a dog from the facility.

He said the shelter currently housed 70 dogs but had a capacity for 170.

“We just opened this very nice facility a couple of months ago,” Aguirre explained to the Alliance group of city leaders.

He said the facility even has taken in horses ,but though they take in cats, “we are not a cat facility.”

Aguirre said it took the city $1.4 million to get the facility running.

“We also operate with lots of donations, including food.”

At the Alliance meeting it was reported that a city “fall clean-up” will take place from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 12 with the public invited to take part.

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Delano’s Chamber of Commerce is seeking vendors for its fall street fair scheduled Oct. 3.

Persons may contact the Chamber staff at 661-586-2391 or 661-809-4076.

Chamber leaders said they were unsure when renovations would be complete on the Chamber office on High Street. In the interim, staff is working out of an office of Liberty Real Estate on South Lexington Street.

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More than 7,000 students at the elementary school level and more than 4,000 students at the high school level have returned to the classroom this fall in Delano.

Robert F. Kennedy High had one of the more difficult openings. Principal Dolores Rodriguez said the opening was smooth, especially considering that the day before classes began an overhead water pipeline broke and flooded much of the administration building.

Because the pipe was overhead, it set off the alarm which allowed staff to get to school early enough to control the damage. Large fans and other equipment were quickly put into place to address the problem.

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