The Examiner

P’ville School Trustees Receptive to Winter Track Program

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Pleasantville High School’s track and field team will compete this winter if supporters can raise enough money to pay for the squad.

The Pleasantville High School track and field team might have just cleared its biggest hurdle in its quest for a winter season.

Although the Pleasantville Board of Education didn’t vote, trustees expressed overwhelming support last week for having track and field athletes compete during the winter season. If Section 1, the governing body of high school sports in Westchester, gives the green light, the board must still approve establishing the winter squad.

While the board was mostly receptive, it didn’t come without making minor changes to the original plan proposed by parents and student-athletes who want to add a winter track program at the high school. The changes would reduce the cost that would come with adding the team to the winter slate. Currently, Pleasantville is one of just four schools in Section 1 without winter track.

Though the board isn’t committed to adding a new program without funding in the budget, it is willing to accept a “pilot extension of the track program,” said President Lois Winkler.

Money would have to be raised privately to pay for the team this winter. Funding for a permanent winter track program would have to be decided during budget deliberations later in the school year.

“Assuming that the parents can come up with the funding for it, we will approve it. Accept the donation and approve the program,” Winkler said.

The original cost projection was $17,000 but after revisions that would result in fewer meets and only one coach, Pleasantville Athletic Director John Bauerlein estimated that the cost would be about $12,000. There is no firm date for when the money would need to be raised but with the winter scheduled beginning in December, funding would need to be in place before the start of the season.

Joe Bennetti, one of the biggest winter track advocates who has a son on the team, said he was elated that the board would support the athletes who want to compete.

“I was very pleased, and to tell you the truth, kind of what I expected from them,” Bennetti said. “I expected them to come with that because I really feel they have the children’s interest at heart.”

When the board last week asked Bennetti if he thought the parents could raise the money, he responded “absolutely.”

Bennetti said he would contact every parent who has a child interested in winter track to see what they could donate toward the team. He also said local businesses would be solicited.

One undecided board member, Shane McGaffey, said while he understood the request from winter track supporters he was concerned with the ramifications of allowing parents to privately raise money for an athletic team. If one group raises money, other parents could ask to do the same for different programs.

“This wasn’t the time to do it,” McGaffey said afterward. “The time to do it was in the budget process.”

Bennetti said he plans to formally propose a winter program for next year when budget discussions begin. Right now, though, he is focused on doing what’s necessary to get this winter track season off the ground.

“It’s a start,” Bennetti said. “Our foot is in the door with this.”


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