Bradford protests Dundee's sports offer
BRADFORD--It was not just a regular school meeting in Bradford Thursday, Feb. 15.
The meeting was titled, "Opening the Door" Potential Partnering for Athletic Offerings with the Dundee Central School District.
The meeting was scheduled to start at 5 p.m. in Bradford's gymnasium. When people entered the gym Bradford students were lined up mid-court with hand-lettered shirts and signs that included the words "We are Braves Nation," "Bradford Athletes Matter" and "We Are Family."
During a two hour emotional meeting, Bradford students and parents soundly rebuffed the Dundee idea.
John Marshall, Bradford's school superintendent, started a powerpoint presentation and said he and Kelly Houck, Dundee's superintendent, had agreed on the content of the main points to be covered, 'Guiding Principles," "Current (school sports) Offerings / Opportunities" and "Participation." (Houck was delivering the same agreed-upon slide content to a parent group meeting in Dundee at the same time). Marshall made the point that school enrollments are dropping and sports team participation is declining. Those factors are making it difficult for many schools to continue offering a full slate of athletic offerings.
Marshall said, "We want to be in this together, we want a full responsible partner. We don't just want a partner that wants us when they need numbers for a certain sport and then after a couple of years they don't need us. This happened with Dundee recently with their boys' soccer team. After three Dundee soccer players joined our team for about three years, then Dundee decided they didn't need our Bradford team. They own that and probably now wish that hadn't happened."
After only a few minutes of the superintendent's presentation many parents grumbled questions among themselves and then a parent raised his hand and asked how did we get to this point? He questioned, "Do you want this? Does the board want this?" Marshall said he didn't want to answer the question right now, but said he wanted to follow his process for the meeting so he didn't lose control. He later returned to the question and said Dundee's Kelly Houck contacted Bradford about the idea back in November.
Marshall covered the three main points of his presentation within the first 25 minutes. Then, Marshall said he anticipated parent questions so he also prepared additional information to share with the group.
The superintendent said this whole process was not easy and there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. He said transportation costs will be increased with this shared school athletic concept. Parents also complained about the added transportation time if a Dundee partnership would occur.
Marshall tried to stress the new student opportunities with sports participation. He said the two schools together would be considered a 'C' division school for state sectional athletics.
Then Marshall opened the meeting up for questions.
Erica Machuga made emotional comments against the Dundee idea and said she has a petition signed by 141 parents against the possibility of a Dundee athletic partnership. The crowd gave her a standing applause when she finished her impassioned comments.
Another person said they attended a game in Dundee and they saw some of the "worst sportsmanship they have ever seen." The group applauded again after this comment.
Bradford student athletes said they have a petition signed by Bradford athletes against the Dundee idea.
Marshall ended the meeting by saying he thought the tone of the meeting was clear, but some other comments could be helpful for Bradford going forward. The superintendent said Dundee may not be the right partner, but he wants to see the best opportunities for Bradford students.
The superintendent encouraged parents and students to go on the Bradford website to register any additional comments about Bradford athletics.
After the meeting, Bradford posted on their school website, "The door is open for collaboration, however, at this moment, there are no immediate planned partnerships for fall or thereafter."