School's vice principal will be interim head coach

John ParkeThe head coach of Lakeridge High School’s football program will be a familiar face for many Pacers.

The Lake Oswego School Board on Monday unanimously approved Lakeridge Vice Principal John Parke as the interim coach for the football program for 2014-15. Lake Oswego School District Superintendent Bill Korach made the recommendation to the board, saying he is backing Lakeridge Principal Jennifer Schiele’s choice. The football coach interview committee also supported Parke for the position, Korach said.

The board’s decision comes in the wake of an Oregon School Activities Association fine and strife among the football program’s leaders.

Lakeridge offensive coordinator and assistant coach Chad Carlson also was in the running. At the standing room-only meeting. four Lakeridge football players, including junior Andrew Demonico, testified, saying they want Carlson as head coach.

“We’re trying to reach out to you,” Demonico said to the board. “What do we need to do to make our opinions heard?”

Though Carlson was not named head coach, Parke said he is interested in keeping Carlson on next school year and naming him as director of football operations. If that plan moves forward, Parke would oversee the program, and Carlson would work closely with players.

Longtime head coach Tom Smythe and Carlson — whom Smythe chose himself as offensive coordinator last year — butted heads, and Smythe stepped down before the season ended. The OSAA recently issued Lakeridge a $2,500 fine and placed the school on probation for four years, punishment stemming from incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct throughout last season and self-reported violations of coaches not being properly certified.

“We didn’t do our job to make sure the season turned out right for our kids,” said John Wendland, a school board member.

Despite the issues, the Lakeridge football team last fall gave the best performance that it had in recent history, including reaching the state quarterfinals for the first time in many years.

“I would be very confident that (Carlson) would do everything that he did for us last year, and I would make sure that everything else that went wrong doesn’t go wrong,” Parke said. “I have no doubts about (Carlson’s) abilities to motivate kids and no doubts about his abilities and understanding of football. If you speak to any of the players, he just did so much for them. He gave them confidence, trained them to be good players.”

Most of the unsportsmanlike conduct incidents involved three students who are graduating, Parke said, and players will be attending sportsmanship clinics and meeting referees from the OSAA.

“John Parke is an outstanding member of our administrative team who cares deeply about our students and this community,” Schiele said. “He recognizes the importance of this role and is looking forward to bringing his passion for football to Lakeridge High School. I expect great things from our coaching staff and Pacer players.”

Korach said Lakeridge had problems last season that it never had before, and Parke is a good choice to turn things around.

Korach said Parke “has a good football background and is currently the administrator whom we trust to ensure that Lakeridge High School behavioral standards are championed and upheld on a daily basis.”

Parke, who previously served as Lakeridge Junior High and Lake Oswego Junior High vice principal, joined Lakeridge High in 2012 and has been with the district since 2000, working as vice principal of Lake Oswego High for seven years. He started teaching in 1990 as a physical education teacher at St. Mary’s High School in Stockton, Calif., where he was a head freshman football coach and junior varsity assistant coach for a couple of years before moving to a junior high and continuing coaching football and track and field.

He received his Master of Arts in education at Saint Mary’s College of California, and he was a member of the varsity football team while at California State University-Fullerton before transferring to California State University-Stanislaus, where he received his bachelor’s in physical education.

“I’m excited about the prospect of coaching for the school because I have a background in football, and I really, truly understand the benefit that interscholastic athletics has for so many kids,” Parke said.

In other business at the school board meeting:

n The board chose not to unblend elementary school classrooms next school year as the teachers association had requested, an idea discussed at previous board meetings. Superintendent Bill Korach and Director of Elementary Education Jonnie Shobaki in their staff report recommended against unblending the combined fourth-third grade and first-second grade classes, saying it is not economically feasible. Fully unblending classes could require about five more full-time equivalents (enough hours for five full-time teachers). A partial unblending could mean adding about four full-time equivalents. Additional classroom space also would be needed, and the school board has not chosen which six elementary schools it plans to keep open. The staff report said administrators will recommend unblending when “economic conditions and necessary facilities allow a successful transition.”

n The board approved a staff recommendation to bring on more teachers and change physical education curriculum. There will be two days of physical education per week instead of one at elementary schools next year, providing more class preparation time for teachers and requiring three additional elementary physical education teachers to be hired. Those were positions that were cut a few years back. There also will be one full-time equivalent (the equivalent hours of a full-time person) in counseling brought on, enough hours to provide each school with half an FTE. Right now all elementary schools have about a .33 FTE in counseling.

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