CHATEAUGAY — With an estimated $1 million hole in its budget due to state aide cuts, the Chateaugay Board of Education met Monday to explore options for athletics in the fall.
Boys and girls soccer, as well as volleyball, are the only fall sports offered at Chateaugay, and the latter is considered high-risk and not a part of the fall sports season, which is slated to begin practices on Sept. 21. The topic was strictly held to boys and girls soccer as it is the immediate concern for the school district.
There were a number of options presented to the board via Section 10.
The first option is to start on soccer practices on Sept. 21. With the changed rules in which teams need 10 practices, they wouldn’t have a game until at least Oct. 2. With most other schools starting on Sept. 21 in the area, there would be no play in a two-week grace period.
Practices could also start on Sept. 28. Games wouldn’t start until Oct. 9. Another option would be to wait and see what’s happening in the Section.
And there remains the option of canceling the fall season.
“Section 10 has been working very hard to put together guidelines on how to be safe,” Chateaugay Athletic Director Michelle Reynolds said. “No one wants this virus, no one asked for this virus. We made the first step of coming back to school, now we want to try and make a step to go back to some type of normality with the kids.”
With the estimated $1 million in cuts, safety isn’t the only concern for interscholastic athletics.
“The financial component unfortunately is a reality for us to deal with that nobody wants to deal with. To me, that’s almost secondary,” Board President Chris Javis said. “The first question is, even if we have unlimited funds, are we confident we can do sports and do them safely? If the answer to that is yes, then we move on to number two, which is the financial piece of what we can afford to do. If it’s no, there’s really no point to moving to number two.”
The board, on the whole, does feel confident in having a safe return to interscholastic athletics so long as they follow the guidelines provided by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association. The main issue is within the logistics of it all.
At best, there will be a shortened season with a reduction to 12 regular season games (six home and six away.) A home game costs about $200. Most likely there will be no sectional playoffs.
Section 10 is waiting to see how many schools are willing to have varsity and are expected to come to a decision for low- and moderate-risk sports today.
“There’s no crystal ball telling you what’s going to happen,” Chateaugay Superintendent Loretta Fowler said. “One of the arguments is, wouldn’t it be better if kids get to do something because they might not do anything those 16 weeks of winter. And there’s no guarantee that soccer will come back on the schedule.”
Many sections in New York have already made their decisions.
Sections 8, 9 and 11 cancelled their fall seasons. 80% of Section 5 schools are starting on Sept. 21. About half of Section 3’s schools are starting on Sept. 21. And 65% of Section 2 will start on Sept. 21. Roughly half of Section 7 will delay to Sept. 28.
“With us being such a low rate up here, I really do think we can do it safely,” Reynolds said.
The Chateaugay school district, and other schools in Franklin County, await Section 10’s announcement.