MADISON, NJ - In an era of budget cuts and financial belt tightening, a new organization has formed in the Borough have created a pay-to-play sports program for the Madison Junior School.  The program was announced at  Tuesday's work session of the Madison Board of Education

Tom Haralampoudis, who began as the president of Madison Junior School (MJS) athletic program's board prior to his election as member of the Madison Board of Education this spring, presented the board with an overview of the program's formation and impending launch.

"We asked for parent and student interest through a survey in starting a pay-to-play program and the response came back very positive."

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The Madison Junior School Athletic Organization (JSAO), as it will be known, will offer boys and girls soccer, field hockey and cross country to MJS students. In the spring, the organization will offer boys and girls lacrosse.

Standing before the board, Haralampoudis said The JSAO was requesting that the Board of Education recognize the organization and consider providing seed money for startup costs. The request was denied.

Haralampoudis also asked the board to consider financial aid, which was denied as taxpayer money cannot be used to support a private organization. Haralampoudis said he was anticipating that the cost of the programs would be $275 for soccer and lacrosse, $175 for cross country, and over $300 for basketball. These fees will also cover coaches, athletic directors and referees.

"We want to have registration start on June 13," Haralampoudis said of his no-cut, three-day a week program.

Haralampoudis said that teams in JSAO will be known as the MJS Dodgers. They will participate in the Greater Morris County Middle School Sports Association, which currently supports 44 teams.

The next steps, Haralampoudis said, are to hire professional coaches, hire referees and draft schedules and policies. For help with some of that work Haralampoudis said has found a group in Basking Ridge that started a middle school sports program from scratch. The group will presumably also help the organization with ideas for fundraising and how to offer financial aid.

The final steps are to complete the organization's filing as a 501c3, or a non-profit organization.

The Board of Education did agree in principle for a district school nurse to accept and review health applications for participants.

"Talking about something like this is easy, putting it together is the hard part, so I am very happy to see this (sports association form)," said board member David Arthur.

Haralampoudis said policies and schedules would be posted to the JSAO Web site at www.mjsdodgers.org.