State of Education: Are sports in schools on the chopping block?
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It's a move out of the financial playbook - sports budget cuts in New York State schools. With less play money coming in, some very difficult decisions had to be made. To start, we got a little insight from the New York State Public High School Athletic Association.
"School districts have eliminated their modified programs for their seventh and eighth grade students; some school districts have eliminated their JV programs, that requires students in grades seven, eight, and nine to play on the same team," said NYSPHSAA Executive Director Nina Van Erk.
Other districts, such as Schoharie schools, avoided the sports chopping block this time around, but their game plan could change.
"I could see us taking a look at mid-level programs, maybe junior varsity level programs in the future taking a look at modified running seven, eight and nine, but again you have to see the other teams are running the same type of programs so you're not mismatched," said Schalmont Schools Athletic Director John Gallo.
The athletic association is also surveying all member schools statewide on which sport programs could be reduced in the near future.
"I think athletic programs might be further reduced if state aid comes in lower again next year because school districts want to keep the taxes lower for people in their school community," said Van Erk.
Some examples, the Rome City School District is considering to eliminate all ninth grade sports, and in Utica the number of actual competitions could decrease. Then there's the idea of charging students, or "pay to play." But for now, this isn't permitted in New York State.
"The commissioner of education back in the late nineties indicated that if interscholastic athletics were offered by public school districts, that they needed to be offered to all students, regardless of their ability to pay," said Van Erk.
But even if one district, at least for the time being isn't currently experiencing any sports budget cuts, their teams can still be affected, especially since this is an inter-scholastic competition, if one school drops a sports program, that's one less team another school can play.
"A few years ago we had to take a look at freshman basketball and there were a number of schools that weren't going to be offering it, so the rest of us were looking like, who are we going to play," said Gallo.
In the meantime, we'll take another look at this playing field next week in part two of out four-part series, "The Game Plan."