Sports

ALJ Athletes Urge Administrators Not to Cut Clark Teams

23a1abb980acb6ed5ade_IMG_2534.JPG
ALJ Students filled the Council Chambers for the last BOE meeting to show support for their sport teams and each other. Credits: Elizabeth Clee
39767ca95fbbdba4c51d_IMG_2538.JPG
Josh Fabrizzio speaks up on behalf of his future and his teammates. Credits: Elizabeth Clee
739660e6dcf487e180de_IMG_2542.JPG
Lindsey Hofschneider spoke about losing the chance to compete on the collegiate level. Credits: Elizabeth Clee
3424acda81dcd0574504_IMG_2543.JPG
 Aya Elsekhely spoke about her sports career since leaving ALJ. Credits: Elizabeth Clee
295127f97544ce8307d7_IMG_2547.JPG
Clark BOE members and School Administrators responded to the students at various points in the meeting. Credits: Elizabeth Clee
d0ce7ecaeffe574ba26a_IMG_2540.JPG
ALJ Parent Jennifer Gallo addressed the BOE Credits: Elizabeth Clee
23a1abb980acb6ed5ade_IMG_2534.JPG

­­­­CLARK,NJ – During the June 13 Clark Board of Education meeting, numerous student-athletes and parents approached the podium to request their teams not be cut from the line up of athletic programs at Arthur L. Johnson High School in September.  The district is struggling to close an almost two million dollar budget deficit.

Despite the explanation of budget restrictions and administrators saying that no cuts have been made to any teams yet, students struggled to understand why their sports might be in danger before others.

One student struggled with why the cross-country team that costs so little to operate, would be so easily cast aside.   “Why is it fair to cut a team that spends the least amount of money and contributes the least amount of debt to the school?” asked ALJ Student Tyler Moreira.

Sign Up for E-News

In continuing his thoughts Moreira expressed concern for the lack of awareness brought to the successes of one of the teams.   “Our swim team has been undefeated for four consecutive years and we are approaching our 40 straight win this season.   However nobody knows this because this team is disregarded.   I am disappointed because the teams I am a part of are so discriminated against and unrecognized by the school that the board would like to remove them from our school.”

An ALJ parent suggested that instead of cutting teams, perhaps all the teams could do with less.   “It makes no sense to me why there are five or six coaches for the football team and why some of that money cannot be deferred to the cross-county team,” said Jennifer Gallo.

Superintendent Ed Grande congratulated students for getting up ad speaking their mind, recognizing it is not easy to do in the setting of a public meeting.    “It’s important to have a voice at your age and to advocate for what you believe in,” said Grande.

To set context Grande reminded students that restricting the cuts to teaching staff was of the utmost importance and that the education of the district’s pupils was the first priority.    According to Grande, no final decisions have been made about sports programs.  

“Myself and Mr. Kalikas met several times to review different programs and come up with potential cuts and right now we are still in discussions,” said Grande.   “Coops and such are things we are still exploring.  Please know that any decisions we have to make are difficult for us and it is not because we don’t value the sports or your hard work whether in the pool or on the track, but these are decisions we have to make for the educational best interest of the student s of the district.”

Several ALJ Juniors saw the disappearance of their teams as the end of a dream they had for college. “Not continuing these sports that we have dedicated years to is not only affecting our future in terms of college but it also crushes our sprit.   For a school district that talks about inspiring greatness, how are you inspiring us by taking away sports we love and succeed at?” said Josh Fabrizzio.

A fellow Junior was feeling the opportunity to compete in college slip away too. “I am looking to run in college, cutting this program is going to decrease the chance I have of running in college because I need to decrease my times to make it in certain colleges.  So cutting the program affects my future not just in high school but on the college level too,” said Lindsey Hofschneider.

In an unexpected rally of support, a 2010 ALJ Alumni who happened to be at the meeting for the swearing in of her sister as next school year’s Student Board member decided to speak up about her real world experience. 

 Aya Elsekhely shared that she had been recruited from ALJ upon graduation to run at NJIT.  “Hearing about these cross-country budget cuts is basically not giving students an opportunity to run at the collegiate level and without that I wouldn’t be where I am today because it shaped me.  If I didn’t have the opportunity to run at ALJ I would not have been recruited and gotten the scholarship that helped me at NJIT,” said Elsekhely.  In closing her comments, she implored the Board and Administrators to consider that more students are recruited for Track and Field than football at the college level.      

According to BOE member and Chair of the BOE’s Athletics Committee, Bob Smorol nothing has been finalized in terms of cutting teams for the next school year.   Smorol recognized the strife students are feeling about the possible cuts and also recognized that Grande and Kalikas have been asked to make some difficult decisions from a budget standpoint.     

Smorol also illuminated for the ALJ students and the rest of the community how the budget process works.   He explained that the day to day decisions about what to cut are not actually made by the BOE. “The Board does not make decisions in terms of what sports are cut, we leave those decisions up to Mr. Grande and Mr. Kalikas in terms of how to get to a number and what they think is the best way to do it,” said Smorol in addressing the audience.  

Smorol encouraged students to take an active role and request a sit-down meeting with Grande and Kalikas so they can enlighten students as to the challenges and perhaps together with the students, they can get to some solutions for the challenges.   

“We as a Board support athletics, it is painful for all of us to look at this and say we may have to eliminate some sports programs, but we are looking at some creative solutions so we might be able to salvage these teams,” said Smorol in a phone interview after the meeting.   

Budgetary shortfalls have been the topic of conversation in BOE meetings throughout the school year. Board member Tom Lewis highlighted them again during this meeting too.  “I want to make everyone aware how difficult this year has been.   We are at a two million dollar deficit with a two percent cap.  I would be remise if I didn’t thanks Mr. Grande for his work and diligence to keep our elementary schools intact without any loss of teachers as well as the Kumpf,” said Lewis.   “It’s a continuous effort, by no means is tonight the conclusion of our financial situation but most importantly we want to deliver the best education in Clark.

--------------

TAPintoClark.net  is Clark’s official electronic news source and the only free daily paper. 

“LIKE” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @TAPintoClark.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Clark

Upcoming Events

Thu, June 21, 1:15 PM

Calvary Lutheran Church, Cranford

Mid-Week Worship & Service

Thu, June 28, 1:15 PM

Calvary Lutheran Church, Cranford

Mid-Week Worship & Service

Carousel_image_5215384026d55e2b196a_flour

Thu, June 28, 7:00 PM

Scotch Plains

Learn about Fluorescent Minerals at the Scotch ...

Reminder: Free Electronics Recycling for Union County Residents, June 30

June 14, 2018

Union County is offering a free electronics recycling event on Saturday, June 30 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Union County Vocational-Technical Schools campus, 1776 Raritan Road in Scotch Plains.

Any Union County resident may bring unwanted televisions, computers, printers, and other electronic equipment to this e-cycling site. There is a limit of six items per ...

Westfield High School Sophomore Dies; Counselors on Hand at School

June 19, 2018

WESTFIELD, NJ — Carthoris “Carter” Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High School, died Sunday night, according to Westfield Public Schools and a letter sent to parents by Principal Dr. Derrick Nelson.

“Words cannot convey the grief we feel in the Westfield Public Schools community over the death of Carthoris ‘Carter’ Uziel, a sophomore at Westfield High ...

Benefits and Potential Pitfalls of 529 College Saving Plans

Do you know the benefits and potential pitfalls of 529 College Saving Plans? Do you know when to use them?  Take a listen to Chris Curran's video below as he gives and overview of them and don't forget to check out his book College Funding Secrets.  

 

 

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 8, 2018

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by prominent ...

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

Obituaries

Jun 29, 1927 - Apr 23, 2018
Margaret (Peggy) Kirk Leonard passed away Monday, April 23rd, surrounded by her loved ones. Peggy ...
Read more