Le Roy Superintendent Merritt Holly asked students and parents to consider a few things during his talk this week about a potential merger of the district’s football program.
First, he didn’t want their immediate feedback, but, rather, he wanted the stats and details he was to provide to marinate for a while before they shared their comments and concerns. The deadline for feedback is Feb. 13.
Second, a merger doesn’t signal a “superpower” team of those earlier days of the game, he said. It’s not Le Roy football in the 1980s, 90s and early to mid-2000s, when enrollment numbers and participation were of a different nature, he said, and “the game of football” has drastically changed over the past 45 years.”
That isn’t what this proposition is about.
“This is about long-term sustainability in the sport of football,” he said.
Third, what is a potential merger with Cal-Mum/Byron-Bergen about?
There’s a rationale — the method behind the madness, so to speak — for considering a merger, Holly said. One issue is the safety factor: Eighth and tenth graders wouldn’t have to play to fill rosters of the junior and varsity levels, and students wouldn't be required to be on the field more than necessary.
“Imagine if we could have some balance in practice and playtime,” he said.
Student-athletes wouldn’t be overplayed, which would reduce the risk of injuries, he said, during times of, for example, athletes playing both sides of the ball.
“You have to be very careful,” he said. “You have to worry more about injuries in practice. When it comes to accountability, when you have no one else in that position to play, it becomes an issue.”
A merger could mean sustainability. A roster would be maintained at three levels, modified, JV and Varsity, with a continuous foundation of youth programs being built. Plus, the other two school districts “have a need and want to be part of this relationship and one (B-B swim team) we have already partnered with,” he said.
Not to be left out of the equation was perhaps Holly’s biggest influential statistic: a decreased enrollment of more than 500 students in 2022-2023 from 1987 figures. He called it a “staggering” slide, though also later noted that numbers seemed to be slightly on the uptick. He did so with caution.
“We could end the presentation right now and say the numbers are coming back, but there’s more,” he said.
Much of the issue was about future roster sizes, the safety of students and the ability to be competitive.
“Sometimes we’re doing our students a disservice,” Holly said. “Sports is one of the best ways to have healthy competition.”
Other districts may decide to merge at some point, and this could be Le Roy’s moment to do so, but it’s up to the school community to decide, he said. Feedback is due by Feb. 13, and the school board is to vote on Feb. 28.
If it’s yes for the merger, that would mean splitting home games, operating costs amongst the school districts, sharing homecoming and senior nights at the home game district, each district paying its own insurance costs, uniforms purchased from a stockpile, and other details to be worked out, he said.
“We’d be looking at a whole new process,” he said. “There’d be a three-year commitment with a 30-day opt-out clause.”
If the merger is a no, Le Roy moves forward with a football program.
“We need to get feedback from you. This is just an initial conversation,” Holly said.
To view the entire presentation, go HERE.
2022 File Photo of Le Roy Oatkan Knights versus Attica by Howard Owens.