At the recommendation of its president and district superintendent, the Bethlehem Board of Education voted to not add an additional modified boys' soccer team to the school's athletic division.
A large contingent of sixth-grade boys has led to a surge of student athletes trying out for modified teams at Bethlehem, according to one Delmar mother, but with only a limited amount of roster room, many students can't make the teams.
Joan Smith asked school board members to consider creating additional modified teams, especially for soccer, where 48 kids tried out for 22 spots last year and 54 students this year for 23 final positions.
Board President James Lytle said he sympathized with the situation but with the budget already in place and the district facing financial restraints, adding teams was not feasible.
Just to be clear, the cost is a significant issue, but it isn't the only one, Lytle said. "I think the problem is trying to figure out which sports we're doing it for and trying to figure out how to explain to parents why we aren't doing the others."
Lytle said scheduling conflicts with the other suburban schools would also be an issue with multiple modified teams. The school's "point of view" is to have equality among all of its athletic teams, he said.
Smith said she understood that the budget was set, and it would be a costly endeavor but asked if corporate sponsors could be brought in.
"The goal is one in which we share. We certainly understand that we try to make sure that as many kids that are interested in physical activities can do so," Lytle said.
"I think we would be prepared in the course of our budgetary discussions next year in ways that we can achieve, which may or may not be through expanded the numbers of modified team, but maybe there are other steps we can take."
Smith asked if it was something the board "would keep open," to which Lytle responded "absolutely."
Other parents have expressed similar concerns, according to Smith, who has twin boys in sixth grade. She said she only hopes as many options are available to students as possible but realizes there are financial and equality barriers.
"There's a huge group of kids," Smith said of those interested in school sports. "And I totally believe in gender equality, but there's just not enough girls to make a girls team.""