Westfield Academy and Central School board of education members heard concerns at their recent regular meeting that seventh and eighth graders in midget football may soon not be able to play because many county schools are moving to a modified football program.
Kendra Bills, president of the Westfield Goldenhawks, told board members that many districts in Chautauqua County are shifting to modified football in which seventh and eighth grade students can play. Therefore, there will be very few midget football teams in the county league, which will have heavyweight (seventh and eighth grade) teams.
"It doesn't help that every other district is going to modified football," Bills said. "We just want to have a place for our kids to play."
Photo by David Prenatt
Kendra Bills, president of the midget football organization, the Westfield Goldenhawks, expresses concerns to the WACS board of education.
Midget football is a community-based league that includes flag football, pee-wee, lightweight (5-6 grades) and heavyweight teams.
Westfield School District belongs to the Erie County league. Most of the schools in this league are large and have enough players to retain the traditional varsity-junior varsity program.
Bills said she was told the Goldenhawks could play in another league, but those games would be too far away. "We cannot send out kids to Olean or Buffalo when they are 12 years old to play football," she said.
WACS superintendent David Davison explained that to add modified football to the program would cost an estimated $15,000 to $20,000. Additionally, according to Title 9 regulations, the district would have to add a girl's sports program as well which would be an additional cost, he said.
"That is not in the cards at this point," Davison said. "Until we have some definitive answers, we cannot commit."
Bills asked if the district would consider adding a modified program down the line. "If nothing can be done in 2017, please reconsider it for 2018. If you lose 30 players, they will never go back," she said.
Davison responded that he and athletic director Jake Hitchcock will be meeting to consider options concerning the football team. In other business, the board decided to continue the practice of holding a senior citizens' breakfast and nominating individuals for a Friend to Education Award. Davison said the breakfast would be held on May 4 and he told the board that the event has been well attended each year.
Davison said he would contact Mr. Kent Knappenberger regarding entertainment for the senior breakfast. "If there is someone you think is deserving of the Friend to Education award, let us know," he added.
Davison also told board members that state assessments will begin soon, with grades 3 through 8 ELA tests administered from March 28 to March 30. He noted that the tests will again be untimed, and that this year's tests have been created with greater teacher involvement.
"These assessments really do help us in finding out where we are in relation to other schools," Davison told the board. The state assessments also give us good data regarding what our students are strong in and what areas need more attention, he added.
Davison also told board members that a special program, What's in the Numbers?, will be held on Thursday, March 23 to help parents interpret test results and better understand how the data influences instruction. National Honor society students will provide babysitting Thursday evening, he said.
Students will not be in attendance on Friday, March 17 as it has been designated as a staff development day, Davison told the board. Elementary Principal Dr. Mary Rockey and Secondary Principal Mrs. Ivana Hite informed the board of plans that have been completed for March 17.
At the conclusion of the meeting, board member Deanne Manzella told the others that she had received feedback from parents regarding shared football, principally the concern that Westfield Academy is taking away homecoming.
When asked about this matter at a later time, Davison explained that since Westfield, Brocton and Fredonia districts share a football program, it would be a "logistical nightmare" to try and have home games at all three schools. Therefore, all home games have been scheduled at Brocton. Because there will only be one homecoming game then, the members of student government from all three districts will plan the event together, he said.
Board members Marie Edwards and Phyllis Hagan also commented on the homecoming issue, noting that spirit week, as well as the homecoming game and dance have always centered on football, but building these activities around a different sport might be an option.