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Nisky forum focuses on athletics, clubs

Community members speak to importance of extracurricular activities

Steve Markham, parent of a Glencliff Elementary School student, talks about incorporating all expenses when determining the cost of a sport, such as field maintenance, during the district’s budget forum on Tuesday, Jan. 24.

Steve Markham, parent of a Glencliff Elementary School student, talks about incorporating all expenses when determining the cost of a sport, such as field maintenance, during the district’s budget forum on Tuesday, Jan. 24. Photo by John Purcell.

— Athletics and clubs might account for just a small portion of the Niskayuna Central School District’s budget, but some community members feel their importance is much greater than dollars and cents.

District officials held a fourth community budget forum on Tuesday, Jan. 24, that focused on athletics, clubs and facilities use and charges. A large crowd filled Van Antwerp Middle School’s auditorium as Superintendent Susan Salvaggio outlined the costs associated within the specific areas in the 2010-11 school year.

The current 2011-12 figures weren’t used since the school year isn’t completed yet and all costs aren’t know, said Salvaggio. She said a lot has been done in the current year to curb costs across the board.

“We are trying to close an incredible gap at the state level and that is having an impact on every aspect of our community,” Salvaggio said. “I bet if I asked you how many are here tonight to advocate for an organization or a particular team sport … many of you would raise your hands.”

The cost for interscholastic athletic teams in the 2010-11 school year totaled around $531,000, or 0.6 percent of the district’s total budget. There were a total of 16 girls programs and 17 boys programs, with skiing offered as a co-ed program.

There were 46 girls teams and 49 boys teams, with two co-ed teams, and 87 coaches for all the teams. This resulted in an average cost per student athlete of nearly $330 and the average cost per team coming in just over $6,550.

Salvaggio said the district is often asked if it can charge for sports, but it can’t have a “pay to play” system.

“We can not charge a participation fee for sports, it is against the law,” she said. “There are all kinds of things that parents absolutely can do and do support, but the school district cannot charge a participation fee for athletics.

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