Mike Jackson has taught hundreds of athletes the ins-and-outs of basketball through the Bunky Reid All Stars and Village of Westbury’s basketball program. And now, the former village recreation supervisor will be joining the school district in a consultancy role, helping to bridge the gap between student academics and athletics.
During last week’s board of education meeting, the board approved a contract for Jackson to serve as a community liaison to athletic teams and the athletic department. In the newly formed role, Jackson will work with coaching staff and guidance to review and monitor the social and academic behavior of student-athletes, as well as facilitate scholarship opportunities and college placements. He’ll also be meeting with and informing parents of potential concerns, coordinating with coaches on extra athletic opportunities for students and connecting in partnerships with outside venues.
Superintendent Eudes Budhai said much of the role includes keeping and getting students on track academically. There are almost 600 high school athletes currently in the district.
“There was no one doing this function. Coaches and guidance would do this, but this is added support,” Budhai said after the meeting. “Our staff will continue to do outreach, but this is an additional support for our students who may require it.”
Jackson will work with all kinds of athletes, with the focus on individuals who need additional support. He’ll also help students who might be able to qualify for athletic scholarships.
“Some he might not need to address because they have all the requirements they need. But there are some that need additional support that he can lend himself to and recruit people to see our students and get them bigger scholarships,” Budhai said. “We’re offering every pathway to our kids so they can be successful.”
At the board meeting, trustees also approved an update to the Code Of Conduct, which bans possession of e-cigarettes, hookah sticks, juuls (vaping pens), and all vaping materials. Budhai noted that the update was a “preventative measure,” to inform students what is acceptable at the school.
“At this point in time, we do not allow e-cigs at our schools. People have become very creative in what they have put in these apparatuses and we want to make it clear to students that if they bring these paraphernalia into school, we will confiscate it and if they have an illegal substance in it, there will be additional consequences based on the code of conduct,” Budhai said.
Items such as e-cigarettes and vaping pens were previously not included in the Code of Conduct, and therefore consequences were not clearly indicated. Letters were sent out to middle and high school parents/guardians informing them about the change.