Fourteen Mattituck Junior High School students are expected to be bumped up to compete in high school sports in the coming school year, and school board members wonder if all meet New York State’s criteria for competing at that level.
The process of allowing junior high students to compete on high school teams is known as selection classification, and it’s been a hot topic for Mattituck parents all year. Some argue that talented young athletes need to be challenged, while others are concerned that high school students would get less playing time with younger students on the team.
The school’s athletic director, Gregg Wormuth, said at the board’s reorganization meeting Tuesday night that eight students play golf and tennis, which the school doesn’t offer at the junior high level. He added that including junior high students has not hurt high school athletes on those teams.
But state guidelines for selection classification stipulate that to compete at the high school level, junior high students must be exceptional athletes and meet strict physical maturity guidelines. School board president Jerry Diffley wondered if the district were interpreting those guidelines too broadly in an effort to accommodate students whose sports are not offered in junior high.
“When you have 14 kids being moved up in a small school, that to me seems out of whack,” he said at Tuesday’s meeting. He and other board members wondered about adding tennis and golf teams to the junior high roster if so many students are interested in playing them.
“It would be very expensive” to field those teams, said board member Janique Nine, “but those are two life sports that they can play forever. They’re just as important as other sports.”
The board did approve continuation of selection classification, with some caveats.
“I’m not against selection classification, but I don’t want to hear during the school year that upperclassmen are not getting playing time,” said board member Jeff Smith. “I don’t want to hear all year long that ‘we’re being bounced out because young kids are coming in.’ ”
SMITH WON’T RUN
Mr. Smith also announced Tuesday night that he will not seek another term next May. He has been a school board member for 15 years, but said he needs to devote more time to family medical issues.
“The reason I’m stating this now is I hope, with a year to go, that some people will step forward to consider running for the board,” he said. “I would hope to see them at meetings before April.”
ADDING A TEACHER
Cutchogue East Elementary School, which cut the positions of five teachers and four teaching assistants, will likely add back one teacher to next year’s schedule.
The teacher will be paid with $80,000 in federal jobs money and would teach a second grade inclusion class.
Cutchogue East Principal Dr. Anne Smith said that the district could have rehired one teacher or two teaching assistants with the money but that her staff was leaning toward adding a well-trained teacher who specializes in teaching special needs students.
“We were looking at what’s in the best interest of the students,” she said. “We struggled with it.”
PRE-K APPLICATIONS UP
Fifty-one applicants have filed requests to participate in the district’s universal pre-K lottery for next year. The district has 27 pre-K seats available.
Superintendent Jim McKenna said that last year only 31 names were entered in the pre-K lottery. He said that this year’s increase may have been due to expanded outreach to the Latino community, with translators helping parents fill out paperwork.
Mr. McKenna said it remains to be seen what the uptick will mean for the 2012 kindergarten class, since not all parents register their children for pre-K, though they are required to register them for kindergarten.