NO PLAN YET, CCS BOARD SAYS
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN – Some 200 people filled the high school cafeteria for a half-hour this evening, expressing fears to the Cooperstown Central school board that the development of the 2020-21 budget would bring an end to varsity football and curtail other extra-curricular activities.
Despite the size of the crowd, school board President Tim Hayes cut off discussion after the 30 minutes scheduled for public input. “There is no plan right now,” he said, although the school board is considering all options in its budget deliberations. Decisions will have to be made by May, when the school budget goes to a public vote.
Parent Tom Ives, Mount Vision, described ending football as “cutting the head off the snake,” suggesting that all the striving, discipline and community spirit engendered by the sports – the body of the snake – will die, too.
Parent and coach Michael Perrino spoke of “what athletics means” to youthful development. Players are “inspired to work together,” he said, adding, “One of the best things you learn is how to lose.”
Parent Frank Panzarella praised the football program, but was also worried about other possible changes: He’s heard the girls swimming team maybe folded into the boys’ team instead of competing against other girls, or the boys’ into the girls’.
Parent Matt Phillips, CCS ’02, who works at the Clark Sports Center, said “if not for the football program, I wouldn’t have come to school.”
While CCS football has hit hard times in the past – it has been scaled back to an eight-man program so a team could be fielded – it has rebounded, he said: “My junior year, we won one game. My senior year, we were undefeated.
His daughter, Leah, is continuing the family tradition by playing with the team. “She even talks about playing for the NFL some day,” Phillips said, a comment which won supportive laughter and applause.
Athletic Director Dave Bertram, noting there’s no bigger supporter of in-school athletics then he, echoed Hayes: There’s no plan, “we’re not at the point where there’s a decision to be made.”
“The hardest thing,” he said, “is our population keeps going down.”
Superintendent Bill Crankshaw emphasized that point in preliminary budget discussions that followed: In 2007, there were 1,048 students K-12; today, there are 850 – a 19 percent drop.
“We are forced to make decisions that don’t feel great,” he told board members.