Dundee looks at Bradford sports merger
DUNDEE--Officials and board members from the Dundee and Bradford school districts met online Tuesday, May 19 to discuss a proposed merging of athletic programs between the two schools.
While no final decision on the partnership was made, both districts walked away from the meeting confident they would work to finalize the arrangement.
"We are 100 percent committed to this," said Bradford Superintendent John Marshall.
Dundee Superintendent Kelly Houck agreed.
"I can say on behalf of Dundee we are very excited and look forward to the great opportunity that we can create for our kids together. I am glad to have a true partner in Bradford," Houck said.
Houck stated she was looking for a five-year partnership that would allow both schools to grow their athletics mutually instead of an annual agreement. That being said, Houck added that programs and teams would still be analyzed and voted upon annually even with a longer agreement in place.
Despite the informal agreement to merge programs already in place according to Houck, Bradford Athletic Director Nicole Keefer asked that both boards expedite the process.
"Whatever you decide to go, can we make that as quickly as possible so it would make mine and (the athletic directors at Dundee) jobs much easier because a lot of work would go into this," Keefer said.
While there was discussion as to what league a combined athletic program would compete in, the decision would not be the school's alone.
"That is something the leagues themselves will have a say in, because like us they are also looking for stability and accountability," Houck said.
Despite the uncertainty, Houck called it a minor issue that board members should not allow to cloud the greater positives of a potential merger.
Two programs from Dundee, football and fall cheerleading, would not be included in the Bradford merger, both of which are currently merged with the Penn Yan School District.
"Just like we will be a dedicated partner to Bradford we have to remain a good partner to Penn Yan," Houck said.
As numbers currently stand, Houck said Bradford students would not be allowed to join the combined Penn Yan Dundee football or cheerleading teams, but that if numbers change in the future that issue could be revisited.
Also addressed during the meeting was the fact this is not the first attempt by the districts to merge athletic programs.
"I am going to address the elephant in the room, what's the sea of change in Bradford?... I remember the signs "Bradford Athletes Matter" and the hatred on social media rife with negativity towards the partnership," said Dundee Board Vice-President Brittany Gibson.
Marshall responded that most of the board that made that decision to not merge three years ago is no longer in office and he believes the Bradford community is a more willing partner now as they are more involved and informed.
"I appreciate your willingness to consider us again even though things didn't turn out a few years ago the way we hoped," Marshall said.