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School Board Reverses Decision on Fielding Lacrosse Team, Sort of

Impassioned pleas by parents convince school board to vote to field one boys lacrosse team in the spring but only if there is no additional expense from the school budget.

Parents in support of fielding a lacrosse team came to the January for a last ditch effort to convince the board to bring the sport to Port Jefferson school district. Their effort met with some success. The board voted to field only a boys lacrosse team in the spring (the original proposal called for both a girls and boys team) but only if there was no additional budgetary cost to the school.

Bill Scannel is a father of three children in the district and one of the parents who organized a lacrosse youth club and a Police Athletic League team for elementary school aged kids in Port Jefferson, along with Brian Mark and Glen Kominska.

Scannel came to the podium at the public portion of the meeting with a proposal for the board.

Referencing an anaysis presented to the school board by athletic director Deb Ferry on in Port Jefferson school district, he said that to field a boys lacrosse team the cost to the district would be between $15,000 and $16,000.

Scannel said that in the current school budget there are funds to field a second girls softball team and that team will not be fielded because of lack of interest. He then asked the board to consider using money from the softball program to field the boys lacrosse team along with a donation from the booster club supporting the team for a net zero cost to the district.

“I’d like to present to the board to accept donations for a spring 2011 program,” Scannel said.

Those donations presumably are enough to make up the difference between the money in the school budget for athletics and the cost to field a boys lacrosse team at the middle school in the spring based on Ferry's report.

“As you know the board has voted twice now,” pointed out Mark Doyle, who is the acting board president. He then asked if the board was willing to put the discussion on the agenda.

Robert Ramus said that his concern was that the former resolution to field a boys and girls lacrosse team in the spring was going to cost $40,000 above and beyond the current budget.

“Why can’t we say we’re not going to field certain teams or if there’s not interest in a certain sport use the money allocate to lacrosse?” asked Ramus.

Superintendent, Max Riley confirmed that the second softball team was not going to be fielded.

“It’s clear from the numbers that we will not be fielding that team,” he said. “In the past if the team hasn’t run the coach is assigned to another sport as an assistant.”

He asked the board for a motion to give him the latitude to find the funds to field lacrosse from somewhere else if money from the softball team happened to be unavailable because of any technicalities.

“We’re running up against Section XI time limits,” Riley said. “If there is a roadblock I will not have time.”

Dennis Kahn said he would support the lacrosse program for one year to evaluate interest but only if the money came from funds already budgeted to the athletic department.

“Not from any other academic situation in the district,” he said. “That’s the only way I will support this.”

Ramus agreed with him.

“We saw Deb Ferry’s presentation,” he said. “If we move it laterally in that budget line I support this. I am not going to make a motion to add additional expense in the budget.”

Doyle then called for the board to make a specific motion to vote on.

The language of the motion was discussed at length by the board members to make sure that it was clear the responsibilities of the district and the booster club.

The board decided that the school district would provide insurance, transportation, chaperones, coaching and officials, all of which would normally be utilized in the athletic department for girls softball.

“Laterally moved,” Kahn stipulated. “No additional expense to the budget. One year conditional. All equipment, jerseys, everything else has to be provided by the parents booster club.”

He emphasized again that there should be no additional cost to the district.

“My concern is Ms. Ferry was very adamant about not using equipment from the parents,” said Doyle, referring to a discussion at the December board meeting where parents offered to use equipment they had already purchased for the lacrosse youth club to save the district money.

Kahn assured the board that the helmets the parents purchased would be the same type the school would buy.

“To take it a step further we can ask or demand that every one of the helmets get recertified before the children are allowed to play,” said Kahn.

Doyle sharpened the motion further.

“Just to make this specific,” he said. “Support funding for one year to field a boys spring 2011 lacrosse team contingent on the parents providing at least $5,000.”

After additional discussion the final motion read as follows: The Board approves the establishment of a boys middle school lacrosse team for one year for the 2011 Spring season; and further, the Board approves the allocation of up to $11,000 from the existing athletic budget with any additional required funds coming from external sources.

Robert Ramus offered to make the motion and Lauren Hubbard seconded it. The board then voted and passed the motion, 6-0 to cheers from the group of parents in attendance.

“This is the right decision for the kids,” said one parent after the vote. “You will be putting a smile on the faces of some of the children in the school district.”

Dr. Riley confirmed that the lacrosse team will be funded from within the current year athletic budget. The issue of where to place the second coach for the girls softball team that will not be fielded had not yet been resolved.

"However, that will not prevent us from naming a lacrosse coach," he said.

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