JAY — RSU 36 directors and Jay School Committee members voted separately, in close votes Tuesday, to combine sports teams this year in the new, consolidated Regional School Unit 73.
That means the age-old rivalry between the Jay Tigers and the Livermore Falls Andies will over as of July 1. They will play together in Class B instead of separately in Class C, Livermore Falls High School Athletic Director Sally Boivin said.
Under Maine Principals' Association rules, the two high schools will be considered one, with a north campus in Jay and a south campus in Livermore Falls. The merger includes drama, math teams and other co-curricular activities.
Community members from two school systems have recommended that the two high schools merge as July 1, 2012.
The Jay School Committee voted 3-2 with Chairwoman Mary Redmond-Luce, Mike Schaedler and Tammy Dwinal-Shufelt in favor; Darcie Comstock and Dan DiPompo were opposed.
RSU 36 directors voted 5-4 in favor, with Cindy Young, Lynn Knight, Tim Madden, Marie Josee Castonguay and Elaine LaPointe in favor; Chairman Ashley O’Brien, Jackie Knight, Denise Rodzen and Diane Gould were opposed.
Students in the two school systems already are in the process of deciding what the combined team's name, mascot, colors and the name of the school will be. They vote on April 5.
The two boards rejected in separate votes putting freshmen in one school next year with specialized programming. Teachers and students said they did not have a chance to provide input on the proposal.
Livermore Falls High School senior Holden Parker said he and other students conducted a random straw poll of students in both high schools on whether they favored combining sports teams in the first year of consolidation.
Overall, students who were polled favored combining, he said. Seventy-six students said yes, 41 no, and 11 maybe, Parker said.
One student asked why middle-schoolers were not polled. Parker said they would have polled them if they had more time.
Boivin was asked what the committee made up of athletic coordinators from both systems thought. Boivin said three were in favor of combining; one wanted to wait one more year.
Coaches were asked their thoughts. Two spoke up.
Mark Simpson, the Livermore Falls High School girls' basketball coach, said one more year of the Tiger and Andies rivalry would be counterproductive. Jay High School football coach Mark Bonnevie said one more year as a Tiger would be good.
Audience members also had different opinions.
Some said the boards should stick to the recommendation that went along with the plan from a subcommittee: to keep the schools separate for the first year and combine them the following.
Others wanted to just get it done.
The recommendation for the high schools to stay separate was based on two things. Livermore Falls has a school improvement grant and there are space constraints to putting students under one roof the first year, RSU 36 Superintendent Sue Pratt said.