Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Merger of High School Sports Gains Opposition

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Merger of High School Sports Gains Opposition

Article excerpt

PATERSON -- The two candidates running for the unexpired two- year Board of Education seat each oppose a plan to consolidate the city's high school athletic programs.

Incumbent Errol Kerr said the district's fiscal crisis is being exploited in a move designed to create stronger sports teams and he argued that any merger would push some students to the sidelines.

Challenger Manny Martinez said district officials should provide a detailed fiscal analysis of the proposal before acting on it, but either way he's believes the consolidation would hurt the city's sports culture and tradition. Kerr and Martinez are in a battle for the school board seat that became vacant in January when a candidate elected in 2015 was disqualified because of previous criminal convictions. Two years remain in the three-year term.

Kerr, who finished fourth in the race for three seats in 2015, was appointed to fill the vacant seat until next month's election. Martinez also previously served on the Board of Education but did not seek reelection in 2015, at which time he made an unsuccessful bid for City Council.

Seven other candidates are running for three three-year school board terms at stake in November.

Question: District officials weighed the idea of consolidating the Eastside and Kennedy high school athletic programs as part of an ongoing budget-cutting campaign. Do you support or oppose that option? Why?

Martinez: Due to the fiscal crunch that we find ourselves in as a direct result of the state's illegal underfunding of our district, the possibility of combining our athletic programs has been brought to the table as a potential cost-saving measure. While I have not seen any projection of how much money this will save, I am hopeful that the district will do so before attempting to take any potential action. At this point, I think we do need to explore more options that will allow dollars to be used more efficiently.

With that being said, I do not want to see the district combine athletic programs. There is a long-standing, proud history of healthy athletic competition between our high schools and I do not want to see that end. As a young child growing up in Paterson, part of the Thanksgiving holiday tradition was going to Hinchliffe stadium to watch Eastside and Kennedy play for bragging rights. …

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