Leading off today:
The St. Johnsville and Oppenheim-Ephratah school districts have extended their working agreement to allow students to combine forces on winter sports teams, the Observer-Dispatch
reported over the weekend.
The schools already had an agreement for fall sports under which Oppenheim-Ephratah soccer players can join the St. Johnsville soccer teams. The paper reported 25 Oppenheim-Ephratah students took advantage of the opportunity.
This winter, Oppenheim-Ephratah students can play for St. Johnsville boys and girls modified, JV and varsity basketball teams. The districts shared sports programs and divided the cost until last year, when a merger proposition was defeated by Oppenheim-Ephratah voters. A revote could take place in December.
The O-E/St. Johnsville collaboration is a no-brainer when you go by the numbers. St. Johnsville has a BEDS figure of 89 and O-E is at 73 for the current school year, which leaves their combined teams in Class D.
What happens, though, if either or both schools grow a little bit next year, and suddenly the combined figure blows past 174? That's the maximum number of students for Class D teams in sports with five NYSPHSAA classifications such as basketball and soccer.
The subject came up when Jeff DiVeronica of the Democrat and Chronicle surveyed the Section 5 landscape and found an explosion in the number of combine programs in recent years.
In some cases, schools agree to consolidations in specific sports to keep struggling programs afloat while rebuilding the base at the junior high or JV levels. There are also situations such as the Rochester City School District, where the cost of fielding a team in every sport at every high school is financially impossible as even a $700 million annual budget is not enough to raise the number of college-ready seniors each June above a ridiculous 6 percent.
Through the years, though, there have been instances across the state in which districts have declined requests to take in "orphaned" athletes because absorbing another school's BEDS number would push their team into a higher class.
The Democrat and Chronicle reported help may be on the way. State officials plan to examine and possibly tweak the New York State Public High School Athletic Associationís policy, new Executive Director Robert Zayas told the paper.
A few ideas have already been kicked around, including cutting the BEDS number of the smaller school in the consolidation by 25 or 50 percent. Section 5 Executive Director Ed Stores has played with a few such scenarios and found examples where schools are still negatively affected.
As an alternative, Stores would like each of the stateísí 11 sections to form classification committees to slot combined teams into the appropriate classes, taking into consideration the number of athletes being imported (as opposed to the inflexible BEDS figure) and some measure of their ability relative to the host school; adding three freshmen hockey players with no varsity experience might not move the needle, but adding two upperclassmen with vast experience might.
Several sections already have similar structures for dealing with private schools.