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North Collins open to athletic program sharing

The North Collins School Board is open to partnerships with nearby districts to provide additional sports opportunities to students not currently offered by the district.

District Athletic Director Kathryn Shelly came to the Board's September 24 meeting seeking directions on how to proceed.

Last year, the state began allowing districts to reach agreements allowing students from one district to participate in sports programs in another district when the sport was not offered. Additionally, it changed the formula so a host district would not necessarily be penalized for participation and pushed into a bigger school division based on two schools full enrollment.

Shelly has been in communication with her counterpart in the Eden School District, where interest in bolstering its football team with North Collins players has been expressed. Boys’ Volleyball, another sport North Collins does not offer, has also been a discussion topic.

Shelly also informed that she had received a request for possible participation in the North Collins soccer program by a resident of Gowanda where that sport is not offered.

Shelly's question to the board was simple, “Are we here to offer more opportunities to our students, or looking to support our current programs and build them?”

Board member Martin Niefergold has been following the recent decision by the Holland and East Aurora districts to run a joint football program under the new regulations. He noted its success so far this year and it has not drawn away participation from Holland's other fall sports, at least from older students. “I think if there is a chance for a kid to play, the opportunity should be there,” said Niefergold.

District Superintendent Benjamin Halsey told the board that any agreements would need to be approved by both school boards involved each year and separate approvals would be needed for each shared sport.

Additionally, North Collins participants could bear the responsibility for any fees associated that the host district may request and would be required to secure their own transportation to practices and games.

Halsey cautioned that the rule change is not designed to create ‘super teams,’ but rather to let smaller or declining enrollment schools field full ones. “If a host district has a full roster for a sport, it cannot cut its own students to make room for North Collins participants,” he said.

The board agreed to pursue the matter on several fronts. First, a canvass of parents to gauge the level of interest and in what sports, and secondly, allowing Shelly to speak with other athletic directors to see if their departments would be interested and in what sports.

Halsey also informed the board that a first project taking advantage of a National Grid energy rebate program had been completed. Older florescent fixtures on the high school's second floor were replaced by school staff. Cost of the project was $6,374 and will receive $3,930 from the utility. Additionally, energy savings from the new lighting is projected at over $1,000 per year.

Jr.-Sr. High School Principal Annie Metcalf informed the board of her school's recent selection as a “Reward School” by the State Department of Education. The designation will allow the school to apply for grants and may offer relief from some mandated requirements.

Metcalf also disclosed that murals will soon adorn several areas of the building through the efforts of art students under the direction of instructor Heather Shean.

Elementary Principal John Cataldo reported that after the first week of school, student enrollment in his building was up by four students and he was expecting two more in the following week.

The board approved a planned trip to Disney World for 11th- and 12th-graders for the week of Feb. 13-19. The tour will be directed by teachers Tracy Robilard and Robert English. Cost will be borne by the students with some fund-raising anticipated.

The school board will next meet on Oct. 8 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school.

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