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Minutes: Fall 2017 Coaches Meeting

Debate and Speech

Lewiston High School room V217, 156 East Avenue, Lewiston
September 8, 2017

Attendees: Pat Spilecki (Lewiston), Brian Dodge (Deering), Matt Leland (Lincoln Academy), Dan Haskell (Cheverus), Lyndsy Denk (Falmouth), Josh Denk (Falmouth), Amy Trunnell (Maranacook—outgoing), Patrick Forgue (Maranacook), Kailey Smith (Lawrence), D’Arcy Robinson (Poland Regional), Michele Adams (York), Larry Bartlett (Morse), Ellen Parent (at large), Jason Curry (Greely), Jake Newcomb (Medomak Valley)

Summary of key decisions and action items

Key decisions/announcements:

  • For December and January, Extemp topics will be added by student vote. Speech moderator Pat Spilecki will work with Extemp moderator Gene Rouse to devise a short list of topics from which students can vote to add. Secretary Lyndsy Denk will support online balloting process.
  • Thanks to the Spear’s fund, our scholarship fund is expanding.
  • Nominated Joe Pelletier to draft blurbs gather photos for web site and States announcements.
  • Recommendations for ways to manage administrations that consistently fail to pay invoices:
    • Immediately after your tournament, submit copies of invoices to your accountant so they know how much to expect from whom.
    • After a month, email coaches with outstanding payments directly or post to the list serv a list of those outstanding. Most coaches/schools are responsive (and embarrassed).
    • If nonresponsive, exempt the school from competing at your next tournament until you receive complete payment.
  • Button poetry: Follow NSDA guidelines (loose as they are) for this season. Investigate the subject more (review online sources and consult with alum Glenn Uhde) to inform decision-making at Spring meeting.

Action items:

  • All: Understand your school’s policy and guidelines around supporting transgender students. Tournament hosts are strongly encouraged to include a statement in their invitation specifying gender-neutral spaces and bathrooms so transgendered people don’t have to ask. Find the invitation template here (Google Docs), which includes space to prompt your statement.
  • All hosts: Consider offering digital balloting for PF, LD, or both. Brian Dodge, Matt Leland, Lyndsy Denk have volunteered as resources.
  • (still outstanding from Spring) Executive committee devise grant application process/form/guidance for new schools to request supporting funds out of the Big Ideas fundraising.
  • (ongoing) Debate moderators (Matt Leland and Joe Pelletier) review and update documentation. Draft a decision tree for judges to advise on more common questions/issues. Secretary (Lyndsy Denk) support publishing.
  • (still outstanding from Spring) Spontaneous by-laws review committee (Lyndsy Denk, Ellen Parent, Jason Curry, Matt Leland) meet over the summer to fine-tooth review by-laws for some little clean-up items that people keep finding.

Breakfast and general talking

Welcome and introductions

Around the horn introductions.

Vote on Parliamentarian for the meeting. Nominate: Curry (Leland, Adams). Accepted. Unanimous.

Officers’ Reports

Secretary Lyndsy Denk (Falmouth)

We did not manage to meet to scrub the by-laws.

Approval of Spring Meeting minutes: Move (Leland, Curry). Unanimous.

Treasurer Ellen Parent (at large)

Estimated 27 member schools for 2017-2018. Some are in transition, so we’ll see.

Big Questions Debate will be ongoing opportunity.

Spear’s Speaking Content (discussed in Spring): We’ll be granted about $500 per year, which should support our scholarship fund.

Scholarship fund: Since we’re earning money from Spear’s, if we want to increase our scholarship awards, we can.

Maineforensic.org is currently a gift from Sam Rouse, so no expense there.

We’ll need toner soon for our tournament printers.

Overall we have a much high starting amount than in recent years.

Transition from Deveau to Parent: Bank account in the works. Debit card pending to support buying. Will order binders and slicks.

Dodge: What’s the $70 line for tournament fees? Parent: Pizza.

Motion to accept (Curry, Dodge). Unanimous.

Vice President D’Arcy Robinson (Poland)

Contacted the MPA because our usual contact Mr. Durgin retired.

I anticipate needing to rely on the MPA for support. Poland Regional has been managing some challenges with transgender students. We want to make sure we make a safe space and set expectations across the organization.

Council of Nine would like to establish a traveling group to visit schools to promote speech and debate.

Motion to accept (Adams, Dodge). Unanimous.

President Brian Dodge (Deering)

With Kris Deveau stepping out of tech committee and giving up responsibilities around Tabroom.com tournament setup, I anticipate a need. I encourage all to get trained on setting up your own tournaments.

School recruitment: This is always an opportunity. I’m surprised some schools have lost some teams.

  • Curry: Mike Kneeland (formerly Greely) now at Noble, which recently had a team.
  • Leland: Camden has expressed interest.
    • Robinson: Been in touch with the teacher there to get things started. Still struggling to see them at tournaments.
    • Newcomb: If there’s anything I can do, Medomak Valley is 15 minutes away.
  • Parent: I’m interested in starting a team at Cony.
  • Trunnell: Winthrop has a theater director who’s very welcoming to the idea. He’d be supportive. Monmouth had a team.
  • Smith: Working with Winslow and Messalonski. We could work together to buspool.

I was privileged to take a World Schools team to NSDA. Adams has coached a team before. The kids had a lot of fun. It’s worth looking into making more of a program.

  • Trunnell: 3 of last year’s Maine delegation are returning.
  • L. Denk: If we need resources, I have connections to the coaches at the Blake School.

A filler activity idea for the end of tournaments: Super Fight. Similar to Cards Against Humanity where you pair cards, then debate the merits/conflicts of the pairing.

  • L. Denk: We do have money in the budget.
  • Haskell: $20 on Amazon.

Motion to accept (Curry, Robinson). Unanimous.

Moderator’s reports

Speech: Pat Spilecki (Lewiston)

No change from Spring meeting. Will update the Speech Handbook to reflect changes based on Spring meeting decisions (POI, INF).

Do I remove Ensemble? We can keep.

  • L. Denk: I recommend moving to an appendix. The document arguably emphasizes the State tournament.

I encourage all to ask questions to clarify things in the handbook and judges briefing.

Motion to accept (Curry, Robinson). Unanimous.

Congressional Debate: Paul Bibeau (Kennebunk)

No report from Bibeau.

Dodge: At nationals, Sydney MacDonald (Bangor) and Quinn Stewart (Scarborough) both advanced well at NSDAs; Quinn advanced to semi-finals at NCFLs. If I hear from Bibeau, I’ll send along.

Lincoln Douglas: Matt Leland (Lincoln Academy)

Working on examining document guide. It needs a glossary of the jargon kids use in round for both competitors and judges.

Digital balloting might affect the handbook, but unsure how since unfamiliar with digital balloting.

The event hasn’t changed a whole heck of a lot at the core. Can remove some date-specific content.

There’s a 150 page LD handbook from NSDA that I’ve downloaded and will borrow accordingly.

Newcomb: Will your glossary be ready for this season?

  • Leland: Hopefully.
  • L. Denk: Submit your jargon suggestions directly to Leland.

Motion to accept (Adams, Curry). Unanimous.

Public Forum: Joe Pelletier (Bangor)

Nothing new to report.

Leland: Textbook available on NSDA site for combo Congress and PF.

Motion to accept (Curry, Robinson). Unanimous.

Technology committee report: Lyndsy Denk (Falmouth)

Kris Deveau is stepping down. Lyndsy is assuming most duties (setting up tournaments in Tabroom.com, maintaining the list serv address book). We need at least one person to support tournament setup on Tabroom.com in January and February. Lyndsy Denk will train as we set up the season’s earlier tournaments.

Volunteers for training:

  • Ellen Parent
  • Kailey Smith
  • D’Arcy Robinson
  • Josh Denk

All equipment working well. We expect no expenses.

  • Parent: Missing a USB printer cable.
  • Smith: I can grab one from a stockpile.

This year we look forward to investigating digital balloting, a conversation that we’ll go deeper into in New Business. Dodge, Haskell, J. Denk all experienced digital balloting at nationals.

  • Haskell: NCFLs LD initially was a disaster. Wifi, infrastructure was swamped. I anticipate we’ll run into similar troubles since tabulation sometimes run into these issues. Work flow was super easy and efficient. I was worried abou comments (lack). The ballots I received back were a mixed bag, but that happens on paper, too.
  • Robinson: Saw it in action with Policy and it was clockwork.
  • Robinson: Policy wanted to essentially white sheet (submit ruling, then comment later). They had the option of paper for comments.
    • J. Denk: PF had the entire tournament to finish comments.
  • Robinson: I invited Chris Palmer (Tabroom.com creator) to this meeting, but he was booked. He’s interested in visiting a tournament for training.
  • Leland: For this to work, would all judges and students need Tabroom.com accounts? L. Denk: Judges yes. Students it’s unclear how they’d receive ballots at the end of the tournament.
    • Robinson: Can’t access until after the tournament.
    • Robinson: As a tournament host, it would save so much time on ballot sorting.
  • Adams: It’ll make debate run smoother, yes. Then there’s Speech. We’re already juggling a time differential. If debate runs faster, then they’ll end even earlier. Do we add a debate round?
    • Robinson: At nationals they run more rounds than Speech and would end later. This could be an opportunity to run filler events (supplementals). It’s likely we’ll go to digital ballots for Speech, too.

Move to accept report and move discussion to new business. (Curry, Adams). Unanimous.

Motion to break (L. Denk, Smith). Unanimous.

2017-2018 Calendar finalization

We have some open slots. Of greatest concern is NSDA Speech and Debate Qualifiers.

  • Tom Sheehy (Brunswick) emailed Lyndsy that he’s almost certain his school is available.
  • Robinson (Poland) says she could do it in a pinch, but would rather someone else.

Lawrence considering co-hosting with Skowhegan at Lawrence, but may not have the availability.

Trunnell: October has one full tournament, November has one. PF will debate different topics each month?

  • Pelletier and Dodge will consider.

Sept 8 Coaches Meeting, Lewiston High School

Oct 14 Lincoln Academy (novice)
28 Bangor

Nov 4
18 Falmouth (Speech), Deering (Debate, Congress)

Dec 2 Medomak Valley
9 Poland
16 Maranacook

Jan 6 Thornton Academy
13 York (Debate, Congress), Lewiston (Speech)
20 NSDA Congress qualifiers @ Greely
27 States @ Bangor

Feb 3 NCFL qualifiers @ Poland
10 NSDA Speech and Debate qualifiers @ Brunswick
17 Snow date

Mar 3 Snow date

May 18 Spring meeting @ Lewiston?

Motion to accept (Adams, Curry). Unanimous.

Old Business

Use of button poetry in competition events (Spilecki)

Button poetry is online, no ISBN; presented in a vetted forum, meaning it’s quality work. Should we allow button poetry as acceptable content? Kids are already using it if we’re not paying attention.

Point of order (Curry): Need a motion to accept button poetry, then build a speaker’s list to debate pro/con and discuss.

  • Spilecki: What do we do about people who aren’t here to discuss?
  • Curry: Is this a change to by-laws? No. In that case, we can decide with current attendance.
  • Leland: Is it possible to acquire proof of existence.
    • Spliecki: You can get it in paperback, which has an ISBN.
    • Smith: Based on popularity, views the sites often publish. My kids often do a Google search to confirm publication. If you get into the ambiguity of what’s published/not, then you open a can with podcasts, other online content. We’d have to explore that.
    • J. Denk: What’s the vetting process; just likes? Smith: Yes, likes.
  • Robinson: Historical stance is that it needs to be published so we can find it more easily. This was enacted because students were using original content. If there is a place to track them…

Adams: NSDA FAQs say:

What about Button Poetry? Or The Moth? Why can’t I use these sites?

Button Poetry and The Moth are high-profile examples of the power of the spoken word. Current rules do not allow for transcribing content from videos or podcasts. However, both Button Poetry and The Moth publish some collections of their stories in print form. Check out their websites for more information.

Dodge: Do we have a motion?

  • Spilecki: I need to know more before making a motion.

Motion to table decision to Spring while we investigate during this season (L. Denk, Curry). 12 yea, 1 abstention.

  • Robinson: What’s NSDA doing?
  • Smith: Not accepting.
  • Robinson: Then let’s follow.
  • Smith: Clarification of motion: The rules we follow now will stand? L. Denk: Yes.

How to get schools/administrations to pay fees (Robinson)

Robinson: I still have outstanding fees from September 2016 tournament. Also seeing some coaches changed amount due on their invoice.

  • Parent: As a first year team, I’ve had annotations.
  • Denk: I give my invoices to my school accountant so they know what to expect from whom.

Curry: Schools with outstanding balances cannot enroll in the next year’s tournament at that school. We could also have a name-and-shame document that is visible to all.

Adams: As one of the non-payers, I didn’t know until July that three checks hadn’t cleared.

  • L. Denk: I was in touch with you and I know you tried.

Adams: If you think you have a challenge on an invoice, what would you like us to do?

  • Robinson: I try to verify the invoices before the end of the tournament day, so that the invoice they take home the coach agrees to. Otherwise, as soon as you spot an error, bring it up with the coach to discuss.

Trunnell: Yes, this is a notorious problem, but not with anyone in this room. Most coaches are mortified by invoice/payment snafus. Hosts can send an email with a list to the list serv.

  • Spilecki: Lewiston is suffering from bureaucracy holdups.

Parent: Are there similar organizations that need to draw on fees from schools? What are their experiences? Is it any better?

  • Smith: Maine Drama Festival. It’s no better. If we don’t have your fees on tech day at the host site (the fees go to the MPA, so the MPA serves as a heavy), we say you can’t compete without.
  • Leland: We are a subdivision of the MPA. Maybe we can recruit Holly’s help. Also, ideas that made sense: If you didn’t pay last year, then they can’t attend that tournament.

Newcomb: I can’t imagine this would be a big deal if there’s a budget in place.

Deering: Our invoices get sent to a central office. We also had a staffing snafu last year, so please reach out.

Adams: When I hire a judge, I’d like to pay that day. Does it make sense for me to pay the judge or let the tournament?

  • Robinson: If you let the host know, we’ll adjust.

Robinson: With large tournaments, if you don’t get prompt payment, your budget is in debt for a while. It’s awkward. The sooner things can get paid, the better for everyone. It starts to pile up for the team and for the school.

Dodge: Do we need a motion or is this about having a general understanding?

  • Robinson: Just need general understanding.
  • Dodge: For new hosts, we encourage you to not be shy about following up on fees.

Trunnell: Point of information about W-9s: More schools are asking for them. You might not get paid unless you produce a W-9. You might want to pass a copy to a tournament director at each tournament just in case.

Name scholarship awards (Robinson)

  • Writing summaries of namesakes
  • Judge of the Year

L. Denk: At the Spring meeting I think we wanted to have someone draft over the summer. Doesn’t look like that’s happened.

Nominate Joe Pelletier to draft summaries for scholarships and awards (Curry, everyone). Unanimous.

Debate documentation and briefing (Trunnell)

Having standard judge briefing document to read at any tournament.

Bartlett: I agree. If we had something small (not a novel) that talks about the salient points of LD and PF, it would help. Yes, we’re responsible for training our judges.

Leland: The last page of the LD manual has something for this. I’m working on it and test it at a tournament. I can recruit Joe to help with PF side.

Adams: Didn’t we discuss briefing LD and PF separately?

  • Curry: If this is your first/second time at a tournament the judge can be confused if they’re switched.
  • Leland: Most judges don’t know what they’re judging at the beginning of the day.
  • Leland: Encourage tournament checkin staff to confirm with the arriving judge what they’re judging.
    • J. Denk: This requires hosts to train their staff.
  • Parent: When I usually judge I don’t always know who hired me or what I’m judging. The staff are often asking me. There’s a confirmation dialogue already. That’s a cue to the (new) judge of which briefing they should attend.
    • L. Denk: Let me look into Tabroom.com printouts to see if we can make this easier. This is a discussion of best practice for tournament hosts to train desk staff to confirm and clarify judge roles.
  • Leland: Is there a judge checkin button on Tabroom.com?
    • L. Denk: I will look into it. If it doesn’t exist, then I will submit a feature request.

New Business

Digital balloting (Dodge, L. Denk)

Dodge: At NSDAs, I was balloting with World Schools. Tab knew what was going on. When it’s firing on all cylinders, it’s great. I’d like someone to host a pilot. Bangor’s is coming right up.

  • L. Denk: Your own tournament is early, but I can’t be there.
  • Dodge: We also talked about having Chris Palmer visit to help pilot.
  • Adams: York willing.

Leland: If not this year, we’ll probably be doing this in a couple years anyway. We need instructions for setup, otherwise we’ll be scrambling.

Smith: Piloting with all events?

  • L. Denk: With a pilot, I recommend we start small and keep simple: one event only (LD or PF).
  • Haskell: Does Tabroom have Speech digital balloting yet?
    • L. Denk: I don’t think so yet.
    • Smith: We can write the program?

Haskell: I like the paper ballot for comments, but digital for rulings. Digital can still be comment, too.

Forgue: Where will the digital assets come from? Do we need to look into the MFA supplying equipment? This question feels like the biggest obstacle.

  • Trunnell: It’ll be a non-issue in a couple years, but it’s a transition to start. I’m the notorious judge who writes brief digital ballots because I’m doing it on my phone. The paper ballots might support comments.
  • Robinson: At NCFLs I think we had one person ask for paper, then the requests stopped.
  • Leland: Yes, we’d need a transition period. What I meant by inevitability: If we kept pushing the vote out about whether we should enact, eventually we’ll get to a yes.
  • Leland: Can Tabroom.com process digital and paper balloting? Trunnell: Yes.
  • Forgue: Sometimes this is timing. When schools exit their MLTI contracts there are opportunities to purchase cheap equipment.

Leland: Tournament directors would have to consider wifi access.

L. Denk: I recommend Dodge, Leland, L. Denk, S. Rouse reach out to tournament hosts to encourage piloting. As many hosts are willing, let’s do it. Eventually we’ll fully adopt.

  • General agreement.

Extemp topic selection (Pat Spilecki)

Email proposal from Gene Rouse (Skowhegan): “While preparing the topic list, I was wondering if we, the establishment, might prepare topics through November or December and allow the students to pick the final categories, kinda sorta like debate.”

L. Denk: I would argue for limiting the vote to select topics; not write-in balloting. We can issue a Google Form.

Trunnell: Asking for points of clarification on topics.

Leland: Couldn’t Gene take the votes at a tournament? During the downtime during tabulation at the end of the day?

  • Trunnell: Gene often leaves early, but could stay later?
  • Adams: What about those who don’t make it to that tournament?
  • L. Denk: I like the option of digital ballot for access.

Spilecki: I want to make this easier for Gene, too.

  • J. Denk: Agreed. At the same time, if we’re going to give people broad categories, it doesn’t make much sense to me.
  • L. Denk: Take a look at the NSDA or NCFL scale of specificity. This is a little off scope of the topic.
  • Smith: Topics are supposed to be somewhat general.
  • L. Denk: For some topics you can still strike a better balance.

Motion to approve student choice (Forgue, Adams). 8 yea, 1 abstention.

Motion to accept Extemp topics (Spilecki, Adams). 8 yea, 2 abstention.

Motion to break for lunch (Smith, Adams). Unanimous.


New Business (cont.)

Transgender students and bathrooms (Robinson)

Robinson: I predict that What do you all do?

  • Dodge: Deering has at least one gender-neutral bathroom.
  • Forgue: Maranacook has gender-neutral bathrooms at all schools.
  • Adams: I took a transgender student to nationals. He expressed that he felt very accepted in the MFA.
  • Smith: It comes up at Lawrence on a case-by-case basis. We allocate a gender-neutral dressing room or bathroom as necessary.
  • Robinson: That brings up concern about comfort. Addressing on the fly helps, but having to bring it up generates discomfort.
  • Curry: Greely does not have gender-neutral bathrooms, but offers staff bathrooms when needed.
  • Leland: Lincoln Academy’s policy is that we don’t care which bathroom you use. There is a gender-neutral bathroom in the nurse’s office, but locked; not convenient.
  • Spilecki: Lewiston’s policy is that students can choose the bathroom of preference. If someone felt uncomfortable, we have staff bathrooms.

Robinson: I’m asking for schools to identify locations in advance. I’d rather we be preventive rather than curative.

Parent: It might be worth looking into State requirements, especially considering there has been a ruling in the Nikki Maines case.

  • L. Denk: I imagine most schools realized the urgency of the conversation when the Maines case was settled.
  • Robinson: Right, but those policies vary. And signage is still unclear.
  • Parent: Worst-case scenario we say, “This is the bathroom you can use.” and the kid goes home saying, “The MFA ordered me to use a separate bathroom.” It should be very clear what each school’s rules are.
  • L. Denk: I’ll add a block to the template invitation to prompt tournament hosts to draft language clarifying gender-neutral policies and spaces.
  • Forgue: Can make a standard of host briefings.
  • L. Denk: I’d like to see the Council of Nine also set the tone with their peers that the MFA aims for equality and fairness, and they’re ready to listen to those who need an ear.

12:30 p.m. Adjournment

Motion to adjourn (Adams, Curry). Unanimous.

Post Meeting

Maine CFL report: D’Arcy Robinson (Poland Regional)

We were so close to having four qualifiers. This year’s nationals is in Arlington, VA. Haskell and I talked about booking train/bus to go down together. The last time we were there, we got so much out of the experience in Washington, D.C.

Reminder to make membership checks out to D’Arcy, otherwise she can’t cash.