BETHEL—At Monday’s SAD 44 School Board meeting, items discussed included the future of Telstar Middle and High School sports programs. Telstar has recently had issues fielding a sufficient amount of players for its athletic teams. Currently, close to only 20 percent of Telstar High School students play an after school sport.
One of the resolutions was possibly joining together with Gould Academy to help field an appropriate amount of players. Telstar is allowed to have Gould students play on their team if they live in the same district. However, this can only happen when Telstar offers a sport that Gould does not. One of the things Telstar requires all its athletes to do is participate in five practices before the start of the season. This significantly conflicts with Gould considering they begin school at a later date than Telstar does.
Telstar has also spoken with Dirigo about possibly having students join some of their sports teams. One of the immediate issues of this was transportation, given the 25 miles distance between the two schools.
“Transportation has really become a challenge for us this year, it’s not just us it’s all across the state,” Superintendent Dave Murphy said. “We are in desperate needs of drivers just to accommodate are regular runs.”
Last week Murphy said the school did not have enough bus drivers to cover all the runs. This resulted in a double run for one of the bus drivers.
Transportation has been an ongoing problem at Telstar and has resulted in cancellations of after school activities as well as field trips. Murphy said the school has tried its best to not impact high school sports due to Maine Principal Association (MPA) regulations. If the school ran a varsity program at the high school level and ended up not meeting the requirements of the schedule, it would result in a three year penalty. The penalty would mean that the team would be prohibited from competing in the playoffs. Telstar made the decision prior to the MPA deadline not to field varsity athletics teams they were concerned would not meet MPA requirements.
To avoid being penalized, discussions of changing football to eight vs. eight have occurred.
“We are not the only school district facing this challenge with student numbers, it’s becoming pretty widespread across the state,” Murphy said.
Murphy encouraged anyone with ideas on how to improve the situation to contact the school.
“The key here is to try to figure out ways just to increase the participation rate with our kids overall,” Murphy said.