M-W athletic fields flagged

| 22 Feb 2012 | 02:47

    One parent’s concern resurrects debate about the need - and cost - of synthetic turf, By Bob Quinn Central Valley - The father stood before Monroe-Woodbury School Board Wednesday evening and asked for its help in preventing what happened to his son on the school’s soccer field. George D. Thurston said his son, William, a member of the Monroe-Woodbury boys varsity soccer team , broke his hand when he fell to ground during the team’s game against Washingtionville. The soccer field was dangerous, according to Thurston, a professor at the NYU School of Medicine. There are bare spots which get slick in damp or wet conditions, and there is not enough grass to cushion falls. The soccer team was ranked fifth in New York State and 21st in the country according to an ESPN poll. The Crusaders allowed a mere four goals to be scored against them the entire season. “Did the soccer team fail us,” Thurston asked. “No.” “We failed the soccer team.” The football field, he added, “is not great. But it has grass.” More than one player’s injury Thurston said he had two year’s worth of e-mail exchanges with the district about field conditions. However, there are other reasons why this is not a new story. Few disagree that the district’s fields need attention. That’s because there is very little time when the fields are not in use, either by students as part of their physical education or by the public and community groups for a variety of activities. School Board President Dr. Michael DiGeronimo said as many as 8,000 families within the district have children who use M-W recreational facilities. In May, voters defeated a $1.67 million proposal to install a synthetic, multi-purpose athletic field. In June, the School Board responded by creating a temporary committee to assess the condition of all physical education resources used by students and community, which include the fields, the swimming pool and the other athletic sites. Many attributed the referendum’s defeat to the economy, rather than its merits, at a time when people are losing their jobs and others struggle to make ends meet. Those same issues will still be on the table if - and when - remedies are suggested. Post-meeting comments Thurston made his remarks during the public comment portion of Wednesday’s school boarding meeting. That means there is no give and take between the speaker and members of the board. However, Thurston is not without supporters among the school board and the administration. After the meeting had been adjourned, School Superintendent Edward J. Mehrhof spoke with Thurston. Mehroff likened athletic facilities to classrooms and labs. In order to excel in academic and athletic endeavors, students should have the best possible conditions. DiGeronino also spoke with Thurston. He recalled the effort prior to last May’s vote to generate support for the ballot measures - speaking with the presidents of the various sports clubs. And like Mehroff, DiGeronimo has consistently advocated that physical education benefits all children and is part of the district’s core curriculum. In other business Donna Binder, who described herself as a parent of a first-grader and a third-grader, said the district’s new elementary report cards did not provide enough information to aid her in assessing her children’s performance. Gary Theodore, a member of the independent auditing firm that has just completed a review of the district’s books, told the board that the district was in a very good financial position. He also credited the work of Assistant Superintendent for Business and Management Services Jeffrey T. White and his staff. “Every document we requested, they provided,” Theodore said. “Every question we asked, they answered.” DiGeronimo as well as school board members John Broderick and Erich Tusch would later refer to the audit and its assessment of the district’s finances as critical to the coming year , what with the economy and an impasse in leadership and aid from Albany and Washington. School Board member Natalie Brook noted that Trinity Wall Street and The Episcopal Diocese of New York have recognized the partnership between Grace Episcopal Church in Monroe and North Main Street in creating a community garden. According to the diocese’s Web site, “the relationship between Grace Episcopal Church and the North Main Street School is one of nine charter partnerships in the All our Children Program. Trinity Wall Street provides annual 5-year renewable grants for up to $5,000 to meet exclusively secular needs.” “We have just completed our second year of the AOC partnership,” the diocese said on its Web site. “Although there is a long history of an informal connection between the parish and the school, our relationship was unique among all the charter partnerships because it was built from the ground up - we did not use the grant monies in support of already existing programs. During the course of the 2009/2010 academic year, the Trinity Grant enabled us to: • Build a raised bed community garden. • Provide camp scholarships for eight students • Provide field trip scholarships for eight students • Provide funding to help staff an additional summer enrichment program for English language learners (approximately 30 students). In his remarks at the end of the meeting, Merhof pointed out the conduct of the varsity football team and the varsity cheerleading squad. Last Saturday, the Crusaders were defeated 32-21 by the Troy Flying Horses in the New York State Class AA regional playoff game at Dietz Stadium in Kingston. “The football team handled themselves with class, they dealt with defeat in a dignified way,” the superintendent said. “And the cheerleaders - you could see the disappointment in their eyes. They handled themselves with class. I could not have been more proud of them and how they represented the school district.”