Rhinebeck football gets sidelined again

Key schools punt on merger possibilities, school board told

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Rhinebeck student athletes interested in football may be looking for a Hail Mary pass in their playbook soon.

At the Jan. 28 Board of Education meeting, Athletic Director Steve Boucher painted a bleak outlook for those trying to join a football huddle.

Rhinebeck has no football team of its own and has historically merged with other schools when students are interested in playing. Five Rhinebeck students played on the Spackenkill team this past season, and Boucher estimated that between 13 and 16 had played in the years before that when student athletes joined the Hyde Park team.

However, both schools are shying away this year because of their enrollment numbers, Boucher told the board.

High school athletic team classification is divided into five categories: AA, A, B, C, D. A school’s classification is determined by the combined enrollment of grades 9, 10, and 11. When schools merge to create a team, a percentage of the smaller school is added to the larger school to create a new classification number.

According to last year’s Section 9 numbers, Rhinebeck’s total currently sits at 281, which would place them in class C if they had a team..

Hyde Park sits in class A, with 997 students; Spackenkill is in class B, with 416.

Hyde Park is large enough to field its own team and would have to hold try-outs and potentially cut its own athletes if Rhinebeck’s were added, so they are showing little interest in bringing another school into the mix, Boucher told the board.

Class C schools add 30 percent to the larger school, which means any Rhinebeck additions would bump Spackenkill up to class A.

Boucher said Spackenkill has indicated they don’t think they would compete as well in a higher class.

Neighboring Red Hook currently sits in class B with 517.

Asked if there was any possibility of a merger with the Red Hook team, the director told the Observer he hadn’t pursued the idea because that would mean “[Red Hook] would be bumped up.”

In response to Boucher’s concerns, Board of Education President Deirdre Burns said at the meeting, “If there is anything we can do to advocate… pursue any efforts.”

Boucher replied that he did not want to involve the board unless absolutely necessary

Board member Diane Kantaros did question whether the costs, which could be upwards of $10,000, according to Assistant Superintendent Tom Burnell’s estimates, were worth a sport that only had five players the past year.

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