Frewsburg School Board Discusses Swimming Merger

FREWSBURG – The Frewsburg Central School Board of Education continued discussion about sports mergers – namely boys swimming – at a recent meeting.

Frewsburg received a request from the Pine Valley and Southwestern school districts to continue their boys swimming merger next year. While Frewsburg has enough players for its own team at 19 swimmers, Pine Valley and Southwestern would not be able to keep the sport with one and six swimmers, respectively.

When voters were polled at an exit survey after the budget vote, 89 out 110 said Frewsburg should not merge with other school districts when numbers are too low to have a team and 73 out of 110 polled said if Frewsburg didn’t have enough students to participate in the sport, it should be canceled. According to the board, this data doesn’t reflect Frewsburg’s current situation due to the fact that they do have enough for the swimming team. It was also a very small percentage of the total population to give an accurate reading on the complete consensus of the school district.

However, when Terry Gray, athletic director for Frewsburg Central Schools, surveyed the swimmers and their parents about the merger, the response was positive. The swimmers answered a questionnaire asking them – among other questions – if they were the administrator, would they suggest a merger for the following season. Out of the athletes who answered, eight said yes and three said no.

“I have to say that even though as difficult as merged sports has been for us, and the feedback from the community, I do believe we are doing the right thing by merging the sport,” said Danielle O’Connor, Frewsburg superintendent. “At some point, there will come a time Frewsburg is not going to have enough (players), and we are going to have to reach out to our neighbors in order to assist (our students). I know that is not a popular thing to say and no parent wants to hear.”

There is a concern from the board that the poll reflects what parents want for the moment and does not look long-term.

Last year, all of the practices – with the exception of one week – were held at Frewsburg. Southwestern bused their players to Frewsburg, while the Pine Valley swimmer drove to the school. For away games, Southwestern would pick up the players at Frewsburg half of the time, and overall the costs for to the school district were negligible for having the merger.

“I don’t want to be that school that starts turning away kids simply because a few parents don’t want to share the school,” said Larry Gauger, board president. “If the shoe was on the other foot, they would be begging us to merge with other schools. … In the grand scheme of things, it is a great thing to do because the kids are getting that opportunity (to compete).”

Next year, 12 school districts will have combined into four swim teams. The merger discussion will continue into the July meeting, and based on information after meeting with other school districts, O’Connor would like a resolution at that meeting regarding the merger.

In other news, Mel Feather, president of the board of trustees for Myers Memorial Library, came before the board about the exit vote the school held – most notably the question which stated, “FCS currently provides Myers Library with $6,500 each year as a form of compensation for the resources the school utilizes. Should the district continue this practice?” Out of the 110 which answered the poll, 94 people said no.

“Part of what precipitated that I believe was because The Relief Zone also requested the same amount of money, of course they haven’t been getting from the school. And they also do a lot of programming that is directly related to students at this school,” Feather said.

Feather felt that if the question was worded to reflect that out of their school taxes, $2.50 to $5 goes to the library, the results would be different. He said the library appreciates the support the school and town board gives, and the $6,500 the school provides makes up 10 percent of its budget. To make matters more stressful, the library will no longer receive an ongoing $11,000 grant it had received for 15 years.

“We are desperately in need of support from the town and from the school, and we appreciate what we can get,” Feather said.

The Robert H. Jackson Center will be donating, partially funded through the Masonic Lodge and the PSTA, a hard-cover copy of the story of the life of Robert H. Jackson to every sixth-grade student at the moving-up ceremony on June 25.

The board approved additional recommendations of the CPSE Committee for special class placements for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.

The basketball coaches were authorized to host a summer basketball camp for boys and girls from July 7-11 in the FCS new gym. The Frewsburg Area Youth Soccer was approved to donate a new concession stand to the district to be placed at the baseball/softball/soccer fields located at the Robert H. Jackson school.

The board also authorized to approve the contract between the board of education and Sandberg Kessler Architecture and Engineering PC in the amount of $655,600 for the Middle/High School Reconstruction Project.

There will be a summer reading intervention program for special education students in grades 7-9 to be held on July 15-16, July 22-23, July 29-30 and Aug. 5-7 from 10 a.m. until noon.

There will be a presentation on July 10 for the Gifted and Talented Program in front of the school board.