SALTSBURG — The Blairsville-Saltsburg school board added a new varsity sport to the district’s roster on Wednesday, agreeing to form separate boys’ and girls’ soccer teams from an existing co-ed club.
The board approved the move on an 8-1 vote, with Director Rick Harper dissenting.
Harper said he could not, in good conscience, approve new spending on an activity when the board declined to support past measures related to school safety.
The teams’ inaugural season will be this fall, and they are intending to play at a municipal field in Black Lick.
The addition of the teams is expected to have a $30,600 impact on the district’s budget, according to business manager Eric Kocsis. In addition, the district will incur a one-time expense of $4,200 for new uniforms. Kocsis said that while it’s an expense the district didn’t have before, it is another opportunity for the students.
And that’s all Bev Zajdel, president of the Saltsburg Trojans Soccer Boosters, the teams’ associated booster group, said she had wanted.
“I’m thrilled. I’m thrilled for the kids. I’m thrilled for the district, too. It’s been a dream of mine to get this going for the kids in the district,” she said.
She, along with school board Director Mary Whitfield, had been working over the past two years to convert the teams to a varsity sport.
Zajdel said the effort really came down to a matter of competition — as a club, the team was having trouble finding other teams willing to play against it. Being a recognized varsity sport should solve that problem, Zajdel said.
Although the district has two high schools, the teams are being established as unified, districtwide teams, which creates something of another problem — what to call themselves and what to adopt as a mascot.
As a co-ed club, the team had played as the Saltsburg Trojans, but as a varsity team, they’d like to adopt colors and a mascot representative of the entire district, not Blairsville or Saltsburg alone, Zajdel said.
But that’s a matter for the coming weeks, as will be the hiring of a coach and assistant coach for each.
Whoever wins those jobs will be coaching inaugural teams of around 23 boys and 19 girls.
Zajdel said she expects that participation might even be higher as some students were waiting to see whether the club would become a varsity sport before signing up.
In other business, the board:
• Approved the following supplemental personnel: John Brady, BHS English Department chairman and newspaper adviser; Nancy Hartmann, BHS junior class co-adviser with Laura Goodnack; Marty Kessler, head coach, BSSD boys’ track; Mark Freeman, assistant coach, BSSD boys’ track; Brandy DelleDonne, head coach, BSSD girls’ track; Jessica Foor, assistant coach, BSSD girls’ track; John H. Harsh, assistant coach, BSSD softball; Sean Barrett, BMHS musical director; Alice Moore, BMHS director of music for musical; Cory Manarelli, volunteer coach, BHS basketball; and Rebekah Gibson, BHS band front volunteer.
• Approved the following family and medical leaves: Heather Reo, SES teacher, Feb. 10 to April 23; Jennifer Surratt, BES teacher, April 17 to the end of the school year; and Lisa Cunliffe, SMHS custodian, retroactive from Dec. 15 to Dec. 22.
• Approved the resignation of Gretchen Stiffler, BES cafeteria aide, effective Jan. 10. The vacancy will be posted.
• Hired Kristen Galo as a long-term substitute at SES, during the leave of Heather Reo, for $20,000 with no additional benefits.
• Exonerated Daniel Dunlap and Jillian M. Dunlap, Loyalhanna Township of per capita taxes.
• Approved Nathanael Sara, of Clarksburg, and Clayton Lamb, of Vintondale, as substitute bus drivers.
• Approved a dual-enrollment agreement with Seton Hill University for 2013-14.
• Approved transportation for students to the National College Fair, Feb. 6 in Pittsburgh.
• Approved the following field trips with no cost to the district: BES fifth grade, Lutherlyn Environmental Center, May 8; BHS and SMHS ninth grade, ICTC for shadowing, Jan. 27 and 28; SMHS Student Council, Youth Leadership Conference, IUP, Feb. 27.