Stung by a backlash from the community after it had made the decision to eliminate six middle school sports in 2017-18, the Glen Rock Board of Education reversed course Monday and voted unanimously to keep those sports and raise the 2017-18 budget by 3.25 percent.
In trying to put together its budget for next year, the board had voted at its Feb. 13 meeting to eliminate the six Glen Rock Middle School sports it considered redundant – in that the sports are offered to middle school-aged students through the borough’s recreation and youth travel programs. The six sports were: boys and girls soccer, boys and girls basketball, and baseball and softball.
Cross country, volleyball and track and field, which do not have recreational or travel programs with the borough, were never on the chopping block.
The board had voted 7-2 on Feb. 13 to eliminate the sports, but scheduled a special meeting on Saturday morning, Feb. 25, to continue its discussions on the budget. At that meeting, residents voiced their opposition to the decision to drop the sports and board member Elizabeth Carr changed her vote to keep the sports. On Monday, at its regularly scheduled meeting, after hearing from residents opposed to eliminating the sports, the board voted 9-0 to have its Business Administrator, Mike Rinderknecht, propose a budget with a 3.25 percent increase that includes the six sports. Previously, Rinderknecht had proposed a budget that included the sports but had an increase of 3.28 percent.
In other action, the board approved the school calendar for 2017-18 that includes a day off for the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, which falls on Oct. 19 this year. Teachers return to school on Friday, Sept. 1 and students return the day after Labor Day, Tuesday, Sept. 5. The board decided to keep schools closed on Election Day. Graduation and the final day of school is June 21.
In the New Business portion of the meeting, Schools Superintendent Paula Valenti said Glen Rock High School is considering a shift in athletic conferences, moving from the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference (NJIC), which groups mostly smaller schools, to the more competitive Big North, which features generally larger schools, including parochial sports powers Bergen Catholic, Don Bosco, Immaculate Heart Academy and Academy of Holy Angels, as well as big public schools like Ridgewood, Hackensack, and regional sports powers like Ramapo, Northern Highlands and River Dell. Glen Rock already competes in the Big North for hockey, and recently won the league championship for its division, the Big North Gold Cup. Valenti said she will meet with GRHS athletic director Frank Violante and the coaches to discuss whether a move to the bigger conference is appropriate.
A resident, Karyn Stephenson, asked the board why a volunteer boys lacrosse coach who had been approved by the board in January was just removed from the program last Friday, a week before practice in spring sports is set to begin. Valenti said she will talk to Violante and find out.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: The headline for this story was altered to reflect the fact that the school budget for 2017-18 is not finalized. Also, the story has been edited subsequent to publication.)