Consolidation conundrum

Warren County School District to revisit policy for keeping athletic programs

Youngsville football was the last Warren County School District athletic program to be consolidated, merging with Warren Area High School in 2017.

Warren County School District could soon change its policy for athletics programs.

Each program has to have a certain number of participants, or the program is put on probation. Under the policy, as long as the program has the right number of people, the program is in no particular jeopardy.

That may not be the best way to carry an interscholastic athletic program, according to Superintendent Amy Stewart. And, it is something the school board will be looking at.

The administration has presented some possible sports consolidation options to the board for consideration and the board members are expected to discuss those options at the April 30 meeting of the personnel, athletics, and co-curricular activities meeting.

“We’ve set up a system where if you have the numbers, you have the team,” Stewart said during a discussion of the district budget at Monday’s special board meeting. “The numbers drive everything. If you have this many students, you get this many coaches.”

“If I need 15 athletes to have this program, that’s what the coaches are going for,” she said. “Not necessarily athletes who know which hand to put the glove on.”

She said that is not necessarily a safe practice.

“I’ve read probably three times in the last week that professional baseball players have gotten line drives to the face,” Board Member Joe Colosimo said. “These are seasoned players.”

“When our numbers were larger, we used to have cuts,” Stewart said. “Some kids would make the team. Some kids would not make the team.”

Now, “we have a set of quantitative criteria to have a team, but we don’t have a qualitative set of criteria to see if you can make the team,” she said. “In the vast majority of cases, they take everyone that signs up.”

A year ago, the board discussed setting up cooperative sports agreements before programs have to fold and are forced into co-ops.

“If we let things collapse due to attrition, everybody should be able to see what’s going to happen,” Stewart said. “Everything’s going to go to the big school.”

“If we’re more proactive about it and plan for it in a strategic sense, there’s going to be a more fair distribution,” she said.

‘Fair’ does not necessarily mean ‘popular.’ “If we’re sitting back and designing a planned co-op experience, people are going to be frustrated,” Stewart said.

District-wide supervisor of athletics and co-curricular activities Rick Gignac said the options have been modified since last April.

On the list of potential reductions given to the board members on Monday, ‘athletic co-op plan’ was shown with an estimated savings of $100,000.