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Bexley Schools debates adding lacrosse as school-recognized spor
A vote on whether girls lacrosse should become a school-recognized sport could come down to the wire next month, when Bexley school board members are expected to vote on the issue.
In November, coaches, athletes and parents gathered at a Bexley Board of Education meeting to request that the team become a school-recognized sport.
Currently, the program is community-based, meaning it is funded through supporters and does not use any school resources like transportation or the use of an athletic trainer.
Members of the Bexley Girls Lacrosse Club are requesting to become school-recognized so players may have access to buses for away games and use of the trainer.
The request was prompted in part by changes to the Ohio Schoolgirls' Lacrosse Association, the governing body of girls' lacrosse in Ohio.
In 2008, the member school principals and athletic directors voted to take control of the OSLA, which is working toward moving teams from club to school-recognized status.
The move could leave non-school recognized club teams like Bexley without a competitive schedule, members of the Bexley Girls Lacrosse Club say.
But adding girls lacrosse as a school-recognized sport could mean adding or finding a way to fit at least $30,000 into the district's current budget, Bexley Schools Superintendent Michael Johnson told board members at their Feb. 9 meeting.
Johnson recommended that the board turn down the club's request based on additional costs during a time when the district is trimming its budget.
Administrators said after crunching the numbers, he believed it would cost $30,000 without the addition of uniforms.
"With the expenditures facing the district down the road, we have to be careful with how we proceed," Board president Andrew Sutter said.
Sutter pointed out that adding a spring sport would require careful planning with the district's athletic trainer and there may be a possibility a part-time trainer would need to be added.
"This is an unfortunate confluence of circumstances," Sutter said. "We have the numbers who are interested in playing lacrosse but we find ourselves facing the worst budgetary situation anyone on this board has ever seen."
But board vice president Joan Fishel said there is "fudge room" within the numbers and representatives from the girls lacrosse club agreed they could reduce that estimated expenditure of adding the program by at least $10,000.
While the team acknowledges that some administrative demands would be increased on the athletic department, representatives noted the sport is played in the spring when there are approximately half as many sports and athletes as in the fall season.
"I think if we want to make lacrosse work in Bexley, we can," said Nancy Williams, who has a daughter on the team. "I know we can."
Board member Craig Halliday said he isn't convinced the district can't spread the cost of adding the program around within the current athletics budget, but made note he is not in favor of "putting this on the backs of taxpayers with a levy coming up."
Board member Diane Peterson said the district has no plans to completely cut other spring sports programs. She said though the issue has been difficult to decide, she thinks the board should follow the advice of the school's administration.
"This is something I've really tossed and turned about," she said.
But board member Steve Grossman said he would like to see the program supported - at least in the short term until more budget numbers are played out.
"One cannot know what's going to happen with the schools and the budget," he said.
Fishel said she is in favor of making girls lacrosse a school-recognized sport and coming up with additional funds or making room for a program in the current athletics budget is never an easy challenge.
"I just feel there's never going to be a perfect time," she said.
Currently for school-recognized sports, students pay $50 for the first sport they participate in, and $25 for the second.
Bexley Girls Lacrosse Club coach Gillian Thomson said students pay about $150 to $200 to play.
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