Story by Christina Hedding
The Florida Union Free School District (FUFSD) held their monthly Board of Education meeting on Thurs., Dec. 15. After the Board approved the minutes from the last meeting they began discussion of new business.
The proposed athletic merger between the Florida School District and the Warwick Valley Central School District was a primary topic of conversation. The Board had begun a discussion of a possible athletic merger with Warwick last spring. Superintendent Jan Jehring continued with the proposal, with support from Board member Timothy Beattie.
The merger will allow Florida students in grades seven through 12 to participate in Warwick’s interscholastic girls’ and boys’ swimming programs and the Warwick football program for the 2017-18 school year. Jehring and Beattie were happy to announce that Warwick accepted the proposal and the Board voted to approve the merger.
Jehring continued to discuss the merger, saying that the Board would do everything possible to keep the cost of the program down. The cost per student to participate would be about $300. The main cost would be in providing transportation to Warwick from S.S. Seward. This is where the Board believes they will discern the total cost after seeing how many students wish to participate in each activity. Jehring said the district would save money using vans instead of First Student buses if the need for a certain sport was less than others. The superintendent also stated that if there was no interest in certain sports, the District would not be stuck in the contract.
During the Public Comment section of the meeting, Florida resident Alexandria Sarky asked if football and swimming were the only two sports the athletic merger would offer? What about a sport like Lacrosse?
Board member Timothy Beattie answered her saying that currently the Board and the Warwick athletic director have agreed on trying the merger out in sports programs where no students would be cut. He said once the District sees how many students are interested and how the first year of the program goes, they will revisit the agreement. So, for the 2017-18 school year, football and swimming will be the only options for the program. The Board mentioned that track and field may be added if the program does well next year.
Sarky also asked about the swimming program, as the proposal stated that Florida would be a shadow team to the Warwick team and wanted clarification on the term shadow team. Jehring responded, stating that the Florida students would practice with and travel to meets with the Warwick team. However, Florida students’ scores would not count towards Warwick’s meet scores. Jehring also stated that if a Florida student competed and earned a record, it would be considered a record for the Florida UFSD.
In the end, the Board approved the merger and spoke excitedly of its inception in the coming 2017-18 school year. Board member Beattie spoke again thanking everyone for their support of the athletic merger and expressed his hope that the District can expand it from there.
Superintendent Jehring and Board member Beattie also spoke about the recent New York State School Board Association Conference they attended. Jerhing said she attended a panel on District goals and planning and was excited to express that most of Florida’s District goals, which were discussed at the November meeting, were in conjunction with the State’s ideals.
Beattie spoke about attending a panel on student athletes and concussion. He said that the members of the panel suggested that high school sports programs use concussion baseline tests similar to what college sports programs do. Beattie addressed a concern of most parents with children in sports programs and suggested that Florida develop a baseline test for student athletes as well. The pros of a baseline test can help detect concussions and protect the students.
Virtual High School Proposal
The Board also voted to approve the Virtual High School program. The program will allow students in the high school to take classes online under the supervision of teachers. It will also allow students to take classes that are not currently offered at S.S. Seward. Possible classes include engineering, advanced languages, and life readiness programs.
Jehring provided the Board with a District update. She said that they held the first Superintendent’s Forum during the month of November and despite a small turn out for the first session, she is hopeful that more parents and community members will attend the Forum as they learn about it. The hope for the Forum is that it will provide a productive place for parents and community members to share their concerns with the Superintendent and get answers or more information about current topics and issues.
The next Florida UFSD Board of Education meeting will be held on Thurs., Jan. 19 at the Memorial Building, located at 51 N. Main St. in Florida.