Albany County School District No. 1 is set to open bids today at 1 p.m. after issuing a request for proposals for athletic training services.
Currently, that function is served by district employees, and Superintendent Jubal Yennie has said the RFP doesn’t mean his administration isn’t committed to privatizing those services.
“There are pros and cons both ways and I’m going to try and get those all put together here in the next month,” Yennie told the school board April 10. “We’ve got to be reasonable (with costs). I’m certainly not going to ask us to hire an entire roster of athletic trainers to run a collegiate-model facility.”
The school board approved bidding out for athletic trainers at that meeting. The request for proposals asked potential contractors to file a bid that would have athletic trainers attend competitions for the district’s sports, maintain the athletic training room, attend to students’ injuries and perform a number of other services.
At the April 10 meeting, Miranda Zamora-Williams, a trainer at Laramie High School, urged the school board to move forward with the RFP, saying the high school already doesn’t “have all the resources that we might need.”
“Get the athletic trainers the tools that we need so we can make sure our students are safe,” she said. “We can make a huge difference in our wins.”
Amanda Blackmon, director of therapy services at Premier Bone and Joint Centers, also said the district’s current health services for athletes are lacking.
“This team approach is not complete without qualified physicians, physical therapists and trainers. This is one system where the current system is lacking,” she said. “Rather than seeing a primary care physician or an orthopedic physician when necessary, students and parents often go to urgent care or even Fort Collins as there’s no prescribed plan of action for parents who have an injured athlete. There’s a broken line of communication that could easily be fixed by bringing in an organized health care team to assist. By doing so, the lines of communication will be clear, ensuring that the athletes receive the appropriate care that is needed.”
Blackmon also told the school board that having contractors serve as athletic trainers is the best option since district employment “results in the type of conflict of interest and can lead to increased pressure among coaches to return athletes to play before they are ready.”
“When a trainer is hired by an outside facility, it allows them to make judgments that are governed by the medical needs of the athlete rather than pressure by their employer or respective coaches,” Blackmon said.
Blackmon said the district’s current system also suffers from a “lack of trust.”
“It saddens me to see athletes have to hide their injuries or bypass the athletic training system due to fears about quality of care or getting pulled from the game unnecessarily,” Blackmon said. “This lack of trust can only be fixed by enlisting qualified athletic trainers that have an experienced support team of physicians and therapists.”
Earlier this year, the district had also considered privatizing its groundskeeping services amid the scheduled retirement of one of the district’s groundskeepers. The district received two bids, which the school board rejected. The lower of the two bids was $255,000 and the district’s current in-house cost for grounds maintenance is $186,000.