Pelham’s Varsity girls’ swimmers handed out bracelets and urged supporters to sign a petition on Wednesday to keep the Board of Education from cutting the team.
Swim team members and their parents hastily threw together the after-school petition campaign after learning from an article in the Pelham Weekly that the board is considering cutting the sport to save budget dollars.
“I was so upset,” remarked junior Julia Doherty, who’s swam for PMHS since seventh grade. “I felt that it was so indecent not to even tell us. I had to find out through a newspaper that my team is getting cut.”
Students have already garnered about 300 signatures for its petition that they plan to present to the Board of Education at Monday night’s meeting. While parents and teammates are disheartened that the swimmers have been singled out, they said that they are also dismayed by the fact that they weren’t given ample notice to find an alternative way to keep the sport running.
“They were never given the chance to merge with another team around the county,” said Finola Schauer, a swim team parent. “I just couldn’t believe that nobody would have the courtesy to call. Give us a chance to fundraise, give us a chance to get the parents together.”
Schauer noted that if given the opportunity, she would opt for a “pay-as-you-go” program, which she willingly did for her son when he played Varsity hockey.
Team members suspect that their sport is under fire since it now has only 12 members, when it once had upwards of 20. Some swimmers pointed out that quite a few middle schoolers, who are eligible to join the Varsity team, joined in the protest and could potentially bring the numbers up next year.
“A lot of schools have up to 25 people, where we only have 12,” said junior who was honored by the Board of Education in January for breaking several swimming records. “But we still have a strong team. We won two or three meets, where other teams lost every meet.”
The Board of Education noted that no final decisions have been made with regard to the budget cuts.
“The Board of Education continues to evaluate the entire budget by reviewing every expenditure with due diligence and is attempting to reconcile the difficulty of closing the budget-to-budget increase and a tax rate that is fiscally responsible to these economic conditions,” said Superintendent Dr. Dennis Lauro in a statement released on Wednesday.