Peanuts, popcorn, and Cracker Jacks: forget about baseball, soon your child and everyone else’s will be grounding out sales for his or her favorite school activity.
By Sarah Varney
Peanuts, popcorn, and Cracker Jacks: forget about baseball, soon your child and everyone else’s will be grounding out sales for his or her favorite school activity. For these parents, selling snacks may become the norm as various sports and groups raise money via booster clubs. The idea came up at the March 19 public forum-style meeting of the Rye Board of Education as community members and school parents seek to make up some of the $2.5 million in pro- posed cuts to the 2013-2014 school budget.
At the meeting, parents and students questioned changes to modified sports, and cuts to the drama program. The formation of a schools’ foundation may also assist with budget gaps. Board President Laura Slack reported that a 503c-certified school foundation is in the final stages of approval. The schools foundation concept gives parents and community members the opportunity to make donations earmarked for particular causes or activities. For example, the foundation will administer a $1.7 million donation made by an anonymous Rye couple in January 2012. The money was donated with the understanding that the other half of the $3.4 million needed to build a new field and field house would be raised by the community. Slack stressed that foundation money cannot be used to fund individual sports. “There is no pay-to-play in New York State. You cannot legally require a student’s parents to pay a fee for their child to participate in sports.”
Regardless of fundraising efforts, the plan is to reduce modified sports offerings at Rye Middle School to one team made up of seventh and eighth graders for each sport. There are currently two teams per grade for popular sports such as basketball and lacrosse. At the end of the meeting, one parent of a modified sports player said she found the meeting very helpful and was optimistic about future fundraising opportunities including the formation of a booster group.
For the Parson Street Players, Rye High School’s theater troupe, the group will be down to three productions instead of five and several drama electives will be eliminated. Parents and student members of the group showed up in force to air their concerns and to discuss possible solutions. “I was very proud of these students here tonight. They spoke eloquently about the changes and offered truly constructive ideas,” said board member Nancy Pasquale.
Several parents of middle schoolers expressed fervent support of the team system currently in use. Children are assigned to teams with certain teachers each year. Board member Karen Belanger assured them that the team approach will stay in place. Some savings will likely accrue with the retirement of five long- time staff members: Judith Halpern, a guidance counselor in the Rye schools since 1977; Harriet Sessa, who holds the distinction of being the only staffer to teach at all three elementary schools during her 29-year career; Barbara Gaines, speech pathologist; Kevin Barrett, veteran middle school teacher; and Doug Tuttle, chairman of the math department. In total, the five represent 133 years of experience.
Rye Schools Superintendent Dr. Frank Alvarez presented Rye Recognition of Excellence Awards to Rye High students Henry Pearson, Daniel Keller, Sean Regan, and Jonah Shainberg for both academic and athletic achievement. In addition, the superintendent recognized four members of the Rye Middle School Science Olympiad Team: Kevin Chang, Allison Hufford, Madhu Kannan, and Caroline O.