Sidelined: Middle school to potentially remove six athletic programs


In order to lessen the yearly budget, six middle schools sports will likely be cut next year.

by Julia Rooney, Managing Editor

There may be six fewer sports offered for middle school students next year.

The preliminary action for Glen Rock Middle School to remove any sport already offered by the Glen Rock Recreational Department was made on Feb. 13. The cuts would begin next year. 

The proposal was originally made in a Board of Education meeting with the intention of eliminating tax money that was going to more than one of the same sports team.

The sports offered at the middle school and not the by the Recreation Department are girls volleyball, cross country and track. These three athletic programs would continue to be offered by the school. All others would be cut.

One seventh grade boy has participated in several athletic programs offered by the borough of Glen Rock and is a member of Glen Rock Middle School’s spring track team. To him, the difference between a town program and a school program is the guarantee of playing with classmates on the school’s team.

“I was planning on trying out for soccer and basketball at school next year,” he said. “I don’t think it’s fair that I won’t get to do that as an eighth grader.”

Glen Rock recreational sports programs create several teams of sixth, seventh and eighth graders in town. The teams are then scheduled to play games against their fellow peers for that season.

The athletic teams run by Glen Rock Middle Schools travel to local schools where they compete against fellow students from neighboring towns.

“I like competing against other towns. It’s fun to be competitive and show our school spirit,” said the student.

A fourth grade boy, enrolled at Central Elementary School, has been looking ahead to his middle school career. He is a current member of the basketball, soccer and lacrosse programs offered in town.

“In sixth grade, I want to play soccer and basketball at school,” said the fourth grader. “It’s easy to make friends from other schools with sports.”

Sophomore Caroline Pappas played for the middle school volleyball team before trying out for Glen Rock High School’s team as a ninth grader.

It is important to Pappas that volleyball is continued to be offered at the middle school level due to the lack of a program offered by the borough.

“Playing middle school volleyball introduced me to a team sport that I wouldn’t have had the confidence to start from scratch in high school,”said Pappas. “Middle school volleyball helped me find my passion for volleyball.”

For some students, the quality of a sport goes further than being an extracurricular: it’s their source of exercise.

Senior Victoria Rasmussen plays on Glen Rock High School’s girls varsity basketball and track teams. Rasmussen’s favorite part of athletics is the teamwork and the rewarding feeling of school spirit.

“I believe that middle school is the time to be exposed to a variety of sports and find out what you think is best fit for you as an athlete, so that by the time you reach the high school level you are able to identify the activities you find best fit for your physical abilities and mental aptitude,” Rasmussen said.

Not only is exercise important to maintain a healthy attitude but team sports affect the mental strength of athletes, most times in a positive way.

In a time where technology is so prevalent and changes are being made for students to have access to technological resources, it is crucial for students to be encouraged to take part in physical activities.

“A laptop is not going to teach you teamwork,” said Rasmussen.

Glen Rock resident Allison Weiner Lasher weighed in on the new budget update via the Glen Rockers Facebook page. With a PhD in physical therapy, Lasher is a huge advocate for physical activeness in the lives of adolescents.

“Sports are a very healthy outlet especially for adolescents who are dealing with many hormonal and brain development changes,” Lasher wrote. “It is a constructive and team building/companion outlet in which children bond at the same time are making healthy choices for their body and brain.”

Like many parents active on the Glen Rockers Facebook page, Lasher finds it difficult to see any positivity in this new action.

“I believe that the middle school sports should stay at the middle school so these children are able to focus on decreasing any avoidable long term health issues, increase ability to attain and retain educational information and learn real life competitive situations with successes and failures,” Lasher added.

In numbers, the Glen Rock recreational teams practice for one hour a week, whereas middle school teams are given around five hours of practice time each week.

Board of Education member Ted Jadick voted against the action because he believed there was not enough information on the financial savings from eliminating the sports.

“The kids who would play these sports in middle school still have very viable alternatives through the town programs,” said Jadick. “That’s not necessarily a positive in my mind, but it is a good rationale and the fact is we have to find ways to find cost efficiencies in the budget so that new educational initiatives can be funded while at the same time staying within mandated budget caps.”

Each middle school athlete is required to pay an activity fee to the school of $75. The one fee allows each student to participate in any activity the school offers; they may take part in multiple programs.

The activity fee was instituted to offset the cost of district sports, extracurricular activities and club programs.

To register a child for a Glen Rock recreation program, however, the fee could be as high as $175. Specifically, it costs $125 to be a member of the Glen Rock Youth Baseball League.

Though the price for residents to sign up for a town specific athletic program is almost double the fee for a school sport, with taxes in mind, it is redundant to fund more than one program of the same sport.

The budget is constantly being worked on to make improvements. With the current budget draft, the elimination of middle school athletics only accounts for less than .1 percent.

Superintendent Dr. Paula Valenti addressed the change in a letter to middle school parents, explaining the interest of the district budget and stressing its preliminary nature.

The final decision for the 2017-2018 fiscal year budget will be presented in a Board of Education meeting, open to the public, on April 24.