Young players get okay to play JV despite doubts

An unprecedented number of Mattituck-Cutchogue’s junior high school soccer players have met strict requirements to play junior varsity ball this fall, but the decision to allow them to play at a higher level didn’t sit well with some members of the Board of Education.

Nevertheless, the Mattituck Board of Education on Aug. 19 voted 4-1 to approve the students’ enrollment in high-school-level sports.

Four boys and four girls met state requirements to play on high school teams, though one of the boys has decided to play with a traveling league instead of the school, said Athletic Director Gregg Wormuth at a school board meeting last week.

“Eight is a little unusual, but these kids are becoming specialists in their sport. They’re very good in what they do,” said Mr. Wormuth, who added that the students had met strict academic, physical and technical guidelines for participating in higher level sports.

Some members of the board said they were concerned that the students would throw off the balance of high school teams and challenge the individual students unnecessarily.

“I personally think kids belong where they belong, with their age group,” said school board member Jeff Smith, who cast the sole dissenting vote on allowing the students to move up. Others had appeared ready to vote no during the discussion but, in the end, approved the move.

Mr. Smith said that he believed the influx of younger students would make it harder for older students to play as much as they are accustomed to.

Mr. Wormuth conceded that the move would decrease playing time for older students but said that the new students “will be impact players. They will be challenged and they will grow. To keep them at the 7th- or 8th-grade level is not challenging them.”

Other board members said they were concerned that, once the students start junior varsity competition, they only have a small window of time to change their minds if they don’t think they’re up for the challenge.

“There’s a reason they call the first week of practice ‘Hell Week,’ ” said board member Charles Anderson. “It could get very scary.”

“That’s why it’s selective. Not every kid is cut out for it,” said Mr. Wormuth. “The coaches, kids and parents thought they could handle the pressures.”

Mission Statement progress

The school board’s mission statement committee has finished a draft of a new mission statement designed to foster a culturally diverse environment. The school is drafting the new policy after it was criticized last year by Southold Town’s Anti-Bias Task Force for a lack of attention to diversity.

The school will present the draft to its diversity committee on Aug. 31, discuss it with faculty on Sept. 3 and present it to parents and students at back-to-school nights. A public forum on the mission statement will be held on Oct. 6 in the Cutchogue East library and it is slated to be voted on by the board at its Oct. 21 meeting.

After-school FIZZLE

SCOPE Education Services, which provides after-school programs for students at Cutchogue East Elementary School, has requested a reduction in the school’s fee to use the building. SCOPE representative George Duffy told Mattituck-Cutchogue Superintendent Jim McKenna earlier this month that his organization had been running the program at a loss for the past two years due to dwindling enrollment. An average of about 15 students use the services.

The board agreed to a building-use fee reduction from $15,000 to less than $11,000 per year for the program.

“This is something the community needs. They need some place for kids to go after school,” said board member Jeff Smith.

Perspective on scores

Mattituck-Cutchogue’s administrators have been reviewing the school’s testing data in light of new strict New York State scoring methods. District officials hope to define areas in which the school needs to increase staffing to help students meet higher standards.

If the school used the old scoring methods of prior years, 97 students in grades 3-8 would have needed extra help in English and 40 students would have needed help in math this year. Using the new scoring methods, 223 students need English help and 190 need help in math this year.

“We’re still trying to figure out what these numbers mean,” said Mr. McKenna. “It would be hard to tell parents ‘no, we don’t have to pay attention to these scores this year.’ “

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