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Overwhelming feedback, roster numbers mean no Knights football merger

By Joanne Beck


Le Roy families got word this week that either solidified their hopes of remaining the Oatkan Knights football team or dashed visions of becoming a merged super team of three school districts.

Le Roy Superintendent Merritt Holly sent a letter home Wednesday to student athletes and families revealing the final decision about pursuing a football program merger with Cal-Mum/Byron-Bergen.

After outlining the actions taken thus far, including a meeting with all concerned and taking feedback and questions from students and family members, Holly provided the answer that apparently most wanted to hear.

“After reviewing enrollment data, projected roster numbers, the rationale for combined teams, and student-athlete/parent feedback, the Le Roy Central School District Board of Education has decided to not merge for the upcoming 2023 Fall Football Season with Caledonia-Mumford and Byron-Bergen Central Schools,” he said. “There will not be a vote to merge at the board meeting on February 28, 2023.”

He thanked the district community — board members, coaches, students, parents — for being open and willing to listen to reasons for considering a merger.

“On rare occasions, we see schools merge to help grow existing programs,” he said. “A merger to grow existing programs becomes a hard sell to student-athletes and parents because the outcome is unpredictable. Change is not easy and giving up traditions can be even harder.”

There are many questions that arise with such a proposition, he said, and students weren’t short on them. They asked about playing time, why a merger when they already had three levels, what happens to senior night and homecoming, who will be coaching, to name a few.

The mission of the Le Roy Central School District is to provide an exceptional, high quality educational environment where all learners are empowered to succeed, Holly said. 

Reasons for a potential merger included filling the roster and avoiding injuries by overplaying and over practicing student athletes. The rationale now for not merging after taking all feedback and research into consideration is:

  1. With the projected roster numbers for the Fall 2023 Season, Le Roy CSD can run three levels of 11-man football (modified, JV, and varsity). With that being said, we feel that a merger, as outlined in the Section V Combined Teams Application, does not meet the current rationale/criteria for Le Roy CSD. 
  2. The current merger model in regards to percentages for Classes C (40%) and D (30%) sunsets next year. With no committee recommendation or decision yet from NYSPHSAA on what model may be adopted, it makes sense to wait for this decision to better understand the placement (classification) of merged schools in the future. 
  3. ​The feedback from Le Roy student-athletes and parents was overwhelming against a merger. 

“The Le Roy Central School District would like to thank Caledonia-Mumford and Byron- Bergen Central Schools for their willingness to engage in a meaningful discussion on a potential football merger,” he said. 

File Photo of Le Roy Knights during a winning game.

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