An editorial from the Cheshire Herald:
The Board of Education has money on its mind at the moment.
The District’s budget has landed in the BOE’s lap, courtesy of Superintendent Jeff Solan, and now the group must decide what stays in the proposal, what goes, and how the group will respond if (when?) the Town Council eventually cuts whatever plan sent its way later this winter.
It’s a financial balancing act the Board must perform each year, determining how much is too much when it comes to school spending.
But now, the BOE has one more item on its plate — girls’ ice hockey. This issue likely wasn’t on the Board’s radar until earlier this month, when concerned parents and citizens turned the usual Superintendent Budget Presentation into a passionate plea for support. The players, who currently participate on a co-op club team, want their own squad to be covered under the umbrella of local school athletics and receive the benefits that come along with that.
At the meeting, parents and players expressed their desire to receive the same type of support from the District that the boys’ ice hockey team receives as a member of the Cheshire High School athletic department. Some even suggested that failing to do so would put Cheshire in violation of Title IX.
If the Town has indeed run afoul of the law, then the issue is somewhat moot. The Board will be legally obliged to find a way to support girls ice hockey and make room for it within their budget. However, if Cheshire’s legal team determines that no violations have occurred, then it will be left to the BOE to determine whether supporting a team is economically feasible.
On the one hand, those wishing to garner support for the squad must show that there exists in town a real interest in stocking the roster with players. As of now, fewer than 10 Cheshire girls participate on the co-op.
Would that number rise considerably if the cost for participation were lowered and Cheshire had its own team? Perhaps. According to organizers, players must pay approximately $1,800 to be on the roster, which covers travel expenses, equipment, and more.
Reduce that cost significantly and you could easily surmise that interest would go up. However, hypotheticals are one thing. Those asking for support should be prepared to offer some tangible proof that there are players waiting in the wings.
It’s also true that the BOE simply cannot fund everything. Not every sport or activity can receive the backing of the District. That’s why club sports exist, to help pick up where the municipality leaves off.
Yet, has anyone actually done a deep dive into the finances of a girls ice hockey team? When one considers that the Board is currently reviewing a potential $76 million budget, it seems safe to assume that a few thousand dollars could be found to offset the costs of starting a team. Would those expenses honestly be so great as to outweigh the opportunity to support local student athletes?
More information is needed and more research needs to be done. It may not be feasible to take any definitive action in this year’s budget, but if the interest is there, then the BOE should make it a priority to carve out a spot for girls’ ice hockey moving forward.