Swanton Parents Meet to Reestablish a Youth Sports Recreation Board

This past Wednesday, a contingent of concerned parents met inside the pavilion at Memorial Park to discuss bringing back a modified version of the former Swanton Parks and Recreation Board that oversaw and directed the youth sports program in the Village.  It is believed the Board was dissolved sometime around 2004 as a way to reduce taxes and youth sports activities were then placed under the management of the Swanton Local School District and the Swanton Board of Education (BOE).

Parents at the meeting, organized by Betsy Gardner and Gary Ventimiglia, expressed their belief that youth sports in Swanton would be better served being run by a separate and autonomous board and by a director whose only focus would be on the programs.  Currently, the BOE hires a director to organize the various sports programs, which can be a daunting task for any one individual, but does not provide any funding or guidance beyond that.  There have been four different directors in the past four years.

“I just want to be very clear that we are all of the opinion that our director and our sports directors, coaches and parents have been really working hard to make things go well within the confines of the system that we have,” said Mr. Ventimiglia.  “We’re coming from a place that is trying to help and take away those constraints and allow our program to grow.”

Ms. Gardner stated that this responsibility has a relatively low priority for the BOE compared to running an entire school district.  “We think that the school has done a good job of doing what they can with it but, our School Board is our Rec Board.  Why is this under the school umbrella?  It doesn’t have to be.  We can have a Rec Board that cares more about the whole system,” she said.  “That is the whole point.  To get our Rec improved so our Middle School sports are improved so our High School sports are improved.  We are Swanton Bulldogs and that’s what we care about.  We want to raise that up.”

Ashley Stambaugh, who was in attendance, told the group that she and others in the room have already been in discussions with Swanton Superintendent Chris Lake and members of the BOE concerning this issue to bring this point.  “They are supportive of this and have said, ‘We will help you in whatever way we can’ and we can always go back to them,” added Ms. Gardner.

Under the Swanton BOE, the Rec programs are self-funded.  Therefore, the next step in this process, according to Ms. Gardner, is to establish a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization which will exempt the newly formed Rec Board from paying taxes.  In conjunction with that, the group will be looking to create a board of five to seven members and hire a director.  With the creation of a board, the group hopes to provide parents and coaches with a mechanism for addressing any and all relative issues.  They also intend to fully support the board and duly compensate the new director to establish overall continuity going forward.   

Mr. Ventimiglia said this effort is in the early stages and it will take some time as it goes through the transition.  Future discussions will need to involve the Village of Swanton which owns the properties used by the Rec’s baseball, softball and soccer programs.  Councilwoman Samantha Disbrow was in attendance representing the Village.

Pictured:  Swanton Parents Gary Ventimiglia and Betsy Gardner

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