Decision on sports teams to be made Tuesday

JAY — Jay and RSU 36 school boards will meet separately Tuesday to make recommendations on whether or not Jay and Livermore Falls high school sports teams should be combined as of July 1.

JAY — The pros and cons of combining Jay and Livermore Falls high schools as of July 1 were presented Tuesday.

The pros are:

* Students begin the process immediately after this school year is finished.

* It quickly places Tigers/Andies rivalry in the past, preventing “this-is-the-last-year” pressure and stress on coaches, athletes, teams, parents and community.

* It is an opportunity to offer sub-varsity sports in several sports.

* It is an opportunity for new athletic activities, bowling, cross-country, lacrosse, ice hockey, tennis, volleyball, wrestling and more.

The cons are:

* There is no adjustment time to prepare mentally for the loss of an important and longstanding source of community pride.

* The new varsity home/away uniforms must be ordered immediately for high and middle school.

* Hiring coaches must begin immediately as fall and winter coaches run summer programs in preparation for upcoming sports.

* Everything will feel rushed and the possibility of making mistakes/omissions may be greater than if the process was next year.

* An athletic administrator for the new regional school unit must be in place immediately to guide the efforts to combining forces, change classifications, and assist in developing new schedules.

* Athletic policies and procedures will need to be reviewed and combined to take the best of both schools; then approved by the new school board.

* Gyms, fields and schools will have to be repainted and new signs will need to be made for all of them.

The two school systems will become one that day.

The special meeting will begin at 6 p.m. March 22 at the Jay Middle School cafeteria. They’ll also decide whether to send all freshmen to the same school to participate in Freshman Academy to prepare students for success in a specialized learning environment.

Those recommendations will be made to the new school board that is scheduled to be elected April 19 to oversee RSU 73. However, the decisions each board makes Tuesday will set the tone for the first year of the new system.

Time is of the essence, Jay High School Principal Gilbert Eaton said. Decisions on sports and Freshman Academy need to be made soon. They cannot wait until May, he said.

Now, everybody in the conference is on hold, waiting to hear the result of the athletics component so fall sports schedules can be completed, Sally Boivin, Livermore Falls High School athletic director, said.

If they have two high schools and have combined sports teams, then athletes will play in Class B, Boivin said. If they have two schools and separate sports teams, then athletes will play in Class C, where they are now.

About 100 people turned out Tuesday at the Jay Middle School to hear the conceptual plans for several areas of the new RSU 73 system.

The message from many of the audience who commented on sports and Freshman Academy was to follow the recommendations subcommittees presented to the reorganization planning committee, who put the consolidation plan together.

Put the focus on combining the middle schools and keep the high schools separate the first year of consolidation, they said. A subcommittee recommended the two high schools become one in 2012-13.

Others were interested in cost savings that would come from having combined high school teams, and combining the two high schools. Some were interested in offering more academic and career options.

Boivin presented results of a committee assigned to develop a report regarding the logistics, feasibility, pros and cons, and ideas of combining Jay and Livermore Falls high school sports teams beginning fall of 2011.

There are also several questions to be answered, Boivin said. One is: Will a ninth-grade academy begin in the fall.

“If we’re going to bring the Jay, Livermore Falls freshmen together and they are not going to combine sports, then at 2 p.m., students will return to different schools and compete against each other,” Boivin said. In her opinion, she said, that is not a good idea.

“If we’re going to have Freshman Academy, they need to be one. I think this is a good time to bring them together,” she said.

Concerns were raised about logistics of transporting students back and forth to a different campus, leaving the sophomores, juniors and seniors at different schools, among other issues.

Rob Taylor, a Jay teacher, parent and resident, said the way he is understanding it, if they do have freshmen go to the same school, then sophomores, juniors and seniors would be at two different schools. But they will be considered one school with a north campus in Jay and south campus in Livermore Falls, he said.

He pointed out that the regional planning committee accepted a report from a subcommittee that recommended the two high schools remain separate for the first year and the middle schools being combined.

“We are now looking at having one high school with two campuses and putting sports teams together,” he said. “We either consolidate our high schools or we’ve got to stick with our plan and have one middle school.”

“If we have separate buildings, then there would still be a rivalry. Isn’t that what we’re trying to get away from?” student Holden Parker of Livermore said.

The space would be tight to have all of the students at Jay High School, Wall said. There would need to be a small addition to hold them all and look at state money to help fund it, he said. Student numbers at both schools are declining, he said.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Tom  Fortier's picture

Misunderstanding?

Ellen - I think if you review the original recommendations, you will find that the vision was to consolidate middle schools year one and high schools year two. What concerns me the most is we have limited time to effectively establish a solid plan for consolidating the middle schools and align the curriculums of the two elementary schools with the new middle school curriculum for the upcoming school year, yet the discussion as of late is around combining the Freshman class and sports teams. It seems like the priorities are a bit skewed at this point. While it would be nice to do everything at once, I don't think there is time to adequately prepare to do the entire consolidation at once for the upcoming year. My preference would be to stick with the original plan, do a few things at a time, and do them well.

Ellen Levesque's picture

The combining of the two

The combining of the two school systems was sold to us as cost saving and best for the two communities. Now folks are trying to keep the high schools separate so more sports teams can be had. That is NOT what we were told would happen but it looks like the powers that be want the best of both worlds. Just another instance of not being told the truth???

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