MAHOPAC, N.Y.— Rumors that Mahopac school officials created a new full-time physical education teaching position for the sole purpose of using it to bring in a new football coach from outside the district are not true, according to Superintendent Dr. Dennis Creedon.
The rumors had become so persistent that Creedon and School Board President Dr. Brian Mahoney addressed them directly at last week’s board meeting.
Creedon explained that in the wake of the dismissal of varsity football coach Mark Langella last month (his contract was not renewed after just one year at the helm), some came to believe that a new PE position established in the recently passed 2017-18 budget was tailor-made for an individual that the School Board and administration wanted to bring in as head coach.
“The question is whether or not we [created] a physical education teacher position that was specifically for one individual to come to Mahopac for a football coaching position,” Creedon said. “That would only be a possibility [if] that person was interested in applying for any of this. [Residents] automatically assume we will be hiring a specific person for the football coaching position when we have no idea if anyone will even apply.”
Creedon asserted that the new PE position was created simply because it was needed. He said the position was originally cut from the budget six years ago in the midst of the fiscal crisis and now the board wants to restore it to reduce the strain on the PE department.
“In the end, the way that we have set up our athletic department, we have overstuffed it with responsibilities that need to be addressed at some point,” he said. “These are [responsibilities] that were dropped six years ago and it’s not fair to one person to have [the extra work].
“[The workload] was shifted onto the athletic director, who is also the curricular lead and rating officer of the PE department and the health teachers in our schools. As a result, this extra work makes the coordination, management, and oversight of our very extensive athletic programs very difficult,” Creedon added. “The present workload is greater than what a one-man office can effectively address. The desire for an extra PE teacher would mitigate the situation.”
Creedon said the new teacher would take on the department chair’s responsibilities, including the oversight of the extracurricular clubs and offer support and assistance for the coordination and management of the athletic programs.
“The athletic director would continue to address parental concerns and complaints, offer professional development, curricular guidance, and rate our PE and health teachers, offer professional development and guidance to our many coaches, and oversee the overall athletic program,” he added.
However, some parents remained angry that Langella’s dismissal even happened in the first place.
“I can tell you about it from personal experience with two my children going through the program with Coach Langella and [assistant] Coach [Jeff] Hughes,” Lynn Mongon told the board. “To this day, my two children will call coach Hughes if they have a problem. They taught them not only about sports and football, but how to be productive members of society. If they are in trouble and they don’t know who to turn to, they will turn to those two gentlemen. I think you did a great disservice to this community and to the students, past and present. I think what you let happen is a disgrace.”
But there were others who said hiring school personnel was the purview of the board and administration and district residents needed to let them do their jobs.
“When it comes to hiring people, I trust you to hire the best people, whether it’s the high school principal or the varsity football coach,” Dan Callahan told the board at last week’s meeting. “I trust you as people in charge of the district.”
Mahoney said he wished that people paid as much attention to the district’s academics as they do the sports programs.
“I wish there was more energy placed into academics and preparing our students for a global society,” he said. “There is a lot of competition out there. For those who think there is a hidden agenda, for those who think are backroom politics happening, for those who think that promises have been made, I ask you to remember that our schools are about an academic platform that provides students with access to great teachers, and great subjects. Yes, clubs and sports and theater and music and afterschool programs help to make school fun. But it’s what you learn in the classroom that helps you prepare for the opportunities and challenges students will encounter at the university level.
“For me, it’s not about Friday Night Lights, it’s more about the teaching and the learning process that occurs in our schools every day,” he added.