GJSD BOE Votes to Indefinitely Postpone Decision on District’s Athletic League Affiliation

New Internal Deadline Set for April 30, 2023

At Thursday evening’s regularly scheduled business meeting, the Board of Education voted 6-2 to indefinitely postpone a vote to decide if the District should leave the Foothills Council athletic league to accept membership in the Western Athletic Conference, until 2023. Board of Education President David D’Amore set a new internal deadline of April 30, 2023, to complete all necessary research and evaluate all stakeholder input, to inform the board on a future decision regarding athletic league affiliation for the District.

GJSD currently is a member of the Foothills Council, which also includes Amsterdam, Gloversville, Scotia-Glenville, Broadalbin-Perth, Hudson Falls, Queensbury, South Glens Falls, Glens Falls and Schuylerville school districts. Johnstown was offered membership into the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) for the 2023-24 school year, with WAC representatives setting a deadline of Sept. 30, 2022, for the District to either accept or decline their offer. The WAC currently includes Berne-Knox Westerlo, Canajoharie, Duanesburg, Fonda-Fultonville, Fort Plain, Galway, Mayfield, Mekeel Christian Academy, Middleburgh, Northville, Notre Dame Bishop Gibbons, OESJ and Schoharie.

Thursday’s Board of Education meeting was held at the Knox Auditorium, with a large crowd of community members, current and former staff members, teachers, coaches, student-athletes and alumni in attendance. After opening remarks and a presentation from the Superintendent of Schools Dr. William Crankshaw, Physical Education & Health and Athletics & Extracurricular Programs Director Brian VanNostrand Jr., and Johnstown Jr-Sr High School Principal Scott Hale, the meeting was opened for public comment, which lasted just over one hour.

Central to Thursday night’s discussion is the fact that the WAC does not provide league competition for boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, field hockey or girls golf. GJSD administration presented options for those teams to still be able to compete if a move to the WAC was approved, including applying for provisional membership to the Foothills Council or Wasaren leagues, or shifting to independent schedules for those specific sports. However, provisional membership to the Foothills or Wasaren could not be applied for or granted until the District officially left the Foothills, which left the District without a guaranteed course of action for lacrosse and field hockey.

Section 2 bylaws allow for a girls golf “team” to be created with just one female athlete, and also allows for female golfers to play in boys matches in the regular season, while declaring ahead of time that they would compete in girls golf for postseason sectional play.

GJSD Board of Education President David D’Amore read a prepared statement prior to recommending the board vote on indefinitely postponing a decision to officially leave the Foothills Council.  “Based on my conversations with each board member, I am not convinced that we have a clear view or consensus, and this is too big an issue to be decided by a narrow margin at this time,” he said.

Upon his recommendation to set a deadline of April 30, 2023, D’Amore said, “A pause will give us an opportunity to more thoroughly vet the options before us and build the internal and external relationships we will need to solve the impasse.”

“This will allow our administration the time needed to answer our questions, facilitate dialogue, mend fences and work the phones to secure a better outcome,” he said. “I do mean to vote on this by the deadline, satisfied that we have exhausted all avenues and are ready to step into a new future.”

In referencing the divide that the topic has caused in the Johnstown community, D’Amore implored community members to consider another perspective. 

“The team is the Greater Johnstown School District,” he said. “Each of you is a member of that team, and our charge is to guide and direct the growth and development of our kids as parents, teachers, coaches, administrators and volunteers — and make no mistake, they are watching and learning from everything we do and say. 

“Let’s help each other overcome our obstacles and become what I think we all agree we want to be,” he added. “But think, what are you willing to sacrifice for the team?”

If GJSD decides to pursue future membership in the WAC, the District will need to reapply in 2023 to be considered for the 2024-25 school year.

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