Schools of Thought: Breathing a deep sigh of relief

If you listen closely to the Fonda-Fultonville area, you might hear a small refrain as if it were a CD on repeat.

There’ll be spring sports after all; there’ll be spring sports after all.

OK, maybe no one is singing, but you can bet coaches and players alike are happy that a solution has been found to allow the athletes of the Fonda-Fultonville Central School District to have spring sports for the 2013 season.

It would have a shame, especially for the seniors, if they were to lose their season after the fall and winter sports seasons went off without a hitch. I just hope the players who were talking about transferring in December when the sports originally were cut didn’t actually go through with it now that they’re going to get their chance to compete.

It wouldn’t have happened without major sacrifices and donations from the coaches and Brown Transportation. The coaches and the teacher’s bargaining unit put the opportunities for the athletes before themselves by volunteering to coach this spring instead of receiving their stipends, saving a small chunk of the $60,000 allotted for spring sports in the 2012-13 budget.

There also was the issue of transportation as some of those Colonial Council schools are more than an hour away from Fonda. Robert Brown took care of that by donating his company’s services by transporting the baseball, softball and track teams to their away contests at no cost to the district.

A copy of the Fonda-Fultonville 2012-13 budget that I found lumped interscholastic sports as a single line item. However, I don’t think the donations by the coaches and Brown’s amounted to the entire $60,000.

There are still the issues of where the money to pay for officials and the equipment costs – baseballs, softballs, scorebooks etc. – are going to come from. But compared to coaches’ stipends and fuel for transportation, those costs are minor.

When the spring sports were cut in December, I didn’t panic for the Fonda-Fultonville athletic program either because I’m not a part of it or because we’ve seen this scenario played out since the summer.

In every case, the school communities – not just Fonda-Fultonville – were able to find the funds to provide their student athletes the opportunities they are accustomed to the school districts providing.

But things still seem dire in Fonda-Fultonville.

Remember the delays in appointing Eric Wilson as the successor to former athletic director Alex Mancini. It wasn’t until the 2012-13 budget was passed in June that Fonda-Fultonville school officials even knew there was going to be an athletic program for this school year.

The district’s reserves are depleted and new interim superintendent Ray Colucciello and the Board of Education will have a difficult task ahead of them as they craft a 2013-14 budget while dealing with a property-tax cap and very little mandate relief.

I won’t be surprised if the sports programs are one of the items offered on the chopping block again during the upcoming budget season.

Let one thing be clear. None of the area sports programs that required fundraising by the booster clubs so they would exist this year are out of danger and the question remains how many times the booster clubs can keep going to their communities.

But those are questions that will have to be answered over the course of the next several months.

In the meantime, let Fonda-Fultonville athletes enjoy the fact that they’re going to have spring sports this year.

There’ll be spring sports after all.

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