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Amsterdam modified sports deal gets mixed reception

Amsterdam modified sports deal gets mixed reception

Some of the fundraising weight has been lifted off of the community’s shoulders now that the Greater

Some of the fundraising weight has been lifted off of the community’s shoulders now that the Greater Amsterdam School Board has made a deal with the district’s coaches to restore half the funding for modified sports, but some parents don’t quite see it as a total victory.

The deal, which was accepted by the district’s Board of Education on Wednesday, will reduce all coaches’ salaries by 10 percent and cut their supply budgets in half.

“In my opinion, it’s just sports being cut again; it’s not a restoration, it’s just another give-back,” said Mary Lynn Rouse, president of the fundraising organization Restore Amsterdam Modified Sports, or RAMS.

Rouse said she also feels that the deal has shifted the burden from the community’s shoulders to the individual sports booster clubs.

“I’d have been happier if they said, ‘yeah, we had issues with the budget and we can find the money for you,’ ” Rouse said.

The district’s Board of Education eliminated modified sports from the 2009-10 budget after the board’s proposed budget was rejected by voters twice. Modified sports saved about $54,000 of the $200,000 needed to get the spending plan down to a state-specified contingency level.

The board at the time said modified sports could be reinstated if the community raised the necessary funds.

Already, RAMS has raised about $13,000, including $12,000 from a vodka rigatoni dinner at Crystal Ristorante on Monday.

The Board of Education rejected an earlier proposal by the Amsterdam Teachers Association, which represents the district’s coaches, because the proposal required that the board guarantee that sports would be included in the district’s 2010-11 budget.

Board President Gina DeRossi said the key difference in the second proposal was that the board had to make “every effort” to put modified sports in the 2010-11 budget rather than guarantee it.

“It’s not binding, whereas it was a make-or-break clause last time,” DeRossi said. “None of us would want sports out of the budget, so we will make every effort possible.”

DeRossi said she was pleased with the agreement and said the action taken by the coaches was “admirable.”

While it does look like students will be playing sports in the fall, Rouse said there will be a need for booster clubs to work extra hard due to the reduction in the supply budget.

Rouse is a member of the girls’ soccer booster club and said three new soccer balls have to be bought for each game. Each ball averages about $40.

Athletic Director Robert Noto, who is also the varsity baseball coach, said his supply budget was cut from $2,000 to $1,000. He said he spends $1,000 on baseballs alone for each of the three levels each year.

“Most of the sports are hoping their booster clubs will pick up the rest,” Noto said.

Overall Rouse said she is happy, especially with the way the community has reacted to fundraising efforts.

A local woman donated $2,500 to the cause and various residents wrote $100 checks at Monday’s dinner.

“People are supporting it,” Rouse said. “It’s really touching.”

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