Houck meets with parents about sports partnership
DUNDEE--Dundee Central School held a meeting, Thursday, Feb. 15 to explore options of potentially offering sports programs in collaboration with Bradford Central School. Bradford held a similar meeting at their school at the same time as Dundee. Dundee's 30-minute presentation, as well as question and answer period, was in stark contrast to the contentious meeting happening in the neighboring school district. However, the next day, Friday, Feb. 16, Dundee released a statement partly saying "The door is open for collaboration, however, at this moment, there are no immediate planned partnerships for fall or thereafter."
During the Thursday meeting, Dundee Superintendent Kelly Houck explained some of the details of the potential partnership and then answered a number of questions from the audience.
"There has been some past success with Dundee and Bradford partnering previously for sports such as boys soccer, modified soccer, girls basketball and baseball," said Houck in the beginning of the presentation. "We really want to be able to look at what we have done in the past and how do we build on that and create greater opportunities for both of our districts."
The wording "full-scale partnership" was explained by Houck to mean having an open opportunity at all levels and sports but not meaning all-or-nothing. She explained this could mean depending on student sign-ups one program could make sense while another could not. However, she said moving from a position of survival in terms of having enough students, to success by offering more levels (modified, junior varsity and varsity) can help with athlete development. Also, each sports season (fall, winter and spring) would be explored independently.
When Houck was asked about how Bradford was looking at the idea, she cautioned that she could not speak for them but said, "I think there is a lot of fear being the smaller district in the partnership, and we can certainly relate to that because if you recall back to the fall when we were having conversations with Penn Yan, that is exactly how we felt. So I want to say to them, that no one understands that better than we do. No one will be more respectful of that than we will."
There were a number of questions from parents regarding the logistical difficulty of sharing sports teams. These ranged from where the games would be played, to how different years and class sizes could impact team offerings. Another challenge parents expressed could be if you had to move some students "down" to junior varsity after they have already played at a varsity level.
If the schools moved forward with a partnership, a lot would depend on how many students signed up for a particular program, Houck and Athletic Director Sheldon Gibson said.
Houck mentioned during her recent community conversations, which included students, there was a desire to improve teams. "They want to see something change...it might not be this, but they know they are looking for a different opportunity," the superintendent said. "They want to feel more successful than they do right now."