About 20 student athletes, former students and parents attended Monday’s Poynette School Board meeting to speak out against the appointment of Nathan Morter as girls varsity basketball head coach before his first season has started.
Several members of the group provided testimony during the meeting’s public comment section. In general, the speakers called for another coach, Jon Horsfall, to have the job instead of Morter.
Horsfall currently coaches baseball and girls junior varsity basketball. Morter has been a coach for girls basketball and volleyball.
Horsfall also attended the meeting and gave brief remarks, and his supporters praised him for being “tough but fair” and putting in additional work during the offseason, including during the summer. Current basketball players said they were concerned Morter would lead them to another bad season, although he hasn’t yet had a chance to prove it one way or another.
Steve Maselter was the head coach for the girls basketball team last season. The Lady Pumas finished the season 9-12 overall.
“Last year we went through a coach who didn’t want to win,” one Pumas basketball player said. “I don’t want to go through another season like that.”
Although Morter was not a coach last season, speakers were still adamant that Horsfall would turn the program around.
“I can state for both my girls ... He taught them to expect the best of themselves,” said Chuck Brokish in reference to Horsfall. “He plays to win.”
According to District Administrator Matt Shappell, the board doesn’t decide which coaches to hire. That occurs at the administrative level.
However, the board does review the appointments in open session and Shappell said the board could alter policy to assume power to hire coaches.
Following the public comment section, several said they were impressed by how many people spoke in Horsfall’s favor.
“I hope the voices are listened to today,” said School Board Member Kevin Thays. “… And I have faith they will be.”
WIAA policy update
In other business, the board adopted updated Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association standards, but had some concern for a new provision.
That provision states that a student-athlete charged with a felony will undergo athletic suspension until his or her “debt to society” is repaid, according to district officials.
But some members on the board disliked the item, saying it infringes upon the presumption of innocence.
“It’s an assumption of guilt,” said board Treasurer Jeff Noble.
Board President Kathleen Lucey agreed.
“It is concerning,” she said.
Shappell said the board needed to adopt the resolution and guidelines if the school was to remain eligible for WIAA competitions. The resolution was adopted by a unanimous vote.
Construction at the elementary school is proceeding “on time and on budget,” according to Shappell. He was given the authority by a board vote to approve future bid packages, unless the bid exceeds the project budget.
Jay Hausser, elementary school principal, reported that the summer school program entered its “second phase,” which includes swim lessons and an individual reading program at the Poynette Area Public Library.
Middle School Principal Jerry Pritzl said staff is using the summer to review student performance data and to plan for next year’s professional development plan.
Pritzl also reported that beginning next year, students will meet in their homeroom groups twice a day, once at the beginning of the day and once at the end. That, way, Pritzl said, each student can take a Chromebook for classes and then return them before the final bell.
At the high school, Principal Mark Hoernke said teachers continue training throughout the summer.
*Editor's note: A previous version of this article misidentified Chuck Brokish.