Fredonia Central School has been approached by Westfield Academy and Central School to allow two WACS students to participate in the FCS indoor track program, and the ensuing discussion raised many questions at a regular board of education meeting Tuesday evening.
Superintendent Paul DiFonzo told the board two students currently want to participate in Fredonia's program, and there would be no cost impact on the school if the students were allowed.
"They would be providing their own transportation," he said.
OBSERVER Photo by Shirley Pulawski
The Fredonia Central School Board of Education met for a regular meeting on Tuesday and discussed a request from Westfield Academy and Central School to allow its students to participate in Fredonia’s indoor track program. From left: Board of Education members Edith Byrne, Roberta Coniglio, Tom Hawk and Superintendent Paul DiFonzo.
FCS Athletic Director Tammy Rea said if the school took on the students, the team would play as Fredonia, but be called the Fredonia-Westfield team. She noted competition is individual with indoor track, not as a team.
"There is no team score with indoor track," she said.
Member Edith Byrne said she had concerns.
"I feel bad for the students who live in districts that can't provide the kinds of services that we do at Fredonia, but I don't think it's fair to ask our community to take them on. We ask a lot from our community," she said.
Member Karen Mosier presented a hypothetical situation that drew concern from many on the board. "What if they (WACS students) qualify for state (to compete in the playoffs)?" she asked, and questioned what expenses would be incurred by travel and other costs associated with playing outside of the regular local season.
High School Principal Todd Crandall said a bus is usually not used for travel for fewer than five students, but hotel rooms and game fees and mileage expenses, along with the potential cost of sending teachers and coaches along to events could add up.
Member Michael Bob-seine asked if the request was strictly for two students, or if that number could change. Rea said enrollment for the track had not yet been opened, so it could be more than two students and potentially a much larger number of students.
Board member Tom Hawk said he felt the request should not be about money and saw the request as an "opportunity" for students and the school. "This is for the kids. That's who we're here for," he said.
Byrne replied Hawk's was an "emotional argument and said "Yes, but I'm here for the taxpayers, too."
Mosier noted indoor track has been a target for budget cuts in the past, and in consideration of state budget cuts to school districts, she felt FCS should not bear the entirety of the costs. She said the cost of the program was several thousand dollars per season, and is disproportionately higher than some other sports.
Mosier also cited concerns regarding precedent. "If we tell Westfield they can do it without charging them, what happens if someone else comes along and wants the same deal?"
Member David Giam-brone asked if WACS had made any offers for coaching or other assistance. Crandall said some discussion had taken place regarding coaching help.
Bobseine initially moved to agree to allow the students to play during the regular season, pending board action regarding any playoffs or other games outside of the season. He later withdrew the request after others expressed a desire to table the decision.
A decision on the request was tabled pending more information and further discussion regarding concerns over cost sharing.
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