The Poughkeepsie City School District Board of Education will hold a special meeting Monday at 6 p.m. at which it will decide whether or not to move its athletic programs from Section 1 to Section 9 for the 2014-15 school year.
Should Poughkeepsie apply, Section 9’s 15-member Athletic Council could vote on the Pioneers’ entry into Section 9 and its Mid-Hudson Athletic League as soon as Tuesday.
Poughkeepsie Athletic Director Matt Cameron indicated in his presentation to the board and Superintendent Nicole Williams that Jim Osborne, Section 9’s secretary and treasurer, said the application would be approved.
“The leagues have discussed it very favorably,” said Osborne, indicating that the Athletic Council still needs to vote on the matter.
Poughkeepsie’s Monday special meeting will be held at the Jane Bolin Administration Building. Section 9’s Tuesday meeting will be held at Orange County BOCES in Goshen.
Section 1 consists of teams in Dutchess, Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties. Section 9 consists of teams in Dutchess, Ulster, Orange and Sullivan counties. Seven Dutchess County schools are in Section 1, while eight are in Section 9.
Cameron’s proposal contained a thorough analysis of the benefits of joining Section 9, including a cost analysis that showed the district would save $6,228.02 annually — $3,520.02 on transportation, $1,972 on officials and $736 on dues.
“Our athletic director did a good job of giving us an overview and the costs associated with each section,” Poughkeepsie Board of Education President Ralph Coates said. “I want to review all the information that was given to us and take some time to really review, so I can move my thinking toward which section would benefit our student-athletes the most.”
Other pros for moving to Section 9 in Cameron’s report included: leagues formed by enrollment, avoiding traffic in Westchester County, students being able to get home earlier after road games, having a chance to host league and sectional championships, and that a majority of Dutchess County schools have joined Section 9.
“It’s really a huge shift for our student-athletes and for our community,” Cameron said. “We’ve been a member of Section 1 for so long and it would really change the landscape for our athletic department, and it may generate more moves from other Dutchess County schools. I think it’s a really big vote. There seemed to be a lot of excitement and community support at the public meeting.”
Cameron said knowing whom Poughkeepsie would play was important as leagues in all sports are set earlier in Section 9 and are based on enrollment. For example, should Poughkeepsie join Section 9, it already knows what teams it would play in Section 9 Class A football. Section 1 utilizes a Piner system based on criteria such as past records and returning players to form its schedule.
“I’ve certainly spent a lot of years in Section 1 and the last few or so with this Piner system. I really don’t know what they’re doing,” Poughkeepsie football coach John Castellano said. “It seems to be a ball of confusion. Section 9 allows for a set league, you play everyone in the league and you know where you stand.”
“I can’t look at it from a basketball standpoint. It’s an athletic department issue,” Poughkeepsie boys basketball coach Brian Laffin said. “It’s looking at what’s best for all sports. When it comes to Matt Cameron doing what’s best for our athletic department, he’s always had our best interests in hand.”
Poughkeepsie girls soccer coach Mike Wiesenthal is an Arlington graduate, but has also served as an assistant boys soccer coach at Section 9 Rhinebeck and an assistant boys lacrosse coach at Section 9 Red Hook. He called the prospective move “exciting.”
“I think it’s a great thing, especially for commute time, and it should save us a bunch of it,” Wiesenthal said.
Kevin Rother has coached track and field in Poughkeepsie for 18 years and doesn’t think much would change for his program.
“I don’t really think it’s different in terms of travel or competition,” Rother said. “I’ve developed a relationship with other (Section 1) coaches, so it’s meeting new people and starting over from fresh.”
Our Lady of Lourdes, currently in Section 1, already applied for inclusion into Section 9 for next year, but a vote on the Warriors has not been announced. Arlington’s board of education rejected a similar item last week, citing increased participation numbers for cross country and track in Section 1. Pawling discussed a move as late as last week, but will not apply for Section 9 for next season. Beacon is still examining a move. The Wappingers Central School District — home to John Jay and Roy C. Ketcham — is not applying.
The deadline for districts applying for Section 9 is Nov. 30.
Dover was the most recent Dutchess County school to bolt from Section 1 to Section 9, in 2012. That was the first expansion since Hyde Park’s Franklin D. Roosevelt jumped from Section 1 in 2003. Rhinebeck, Pine Plains, Millbrook, Spackenkill and Webutuck made the move together in 1998. Red Hook is a longtime member of Section 9.