(By Nick Schneider)
For more than 45 minutes, Frank Starr, who served as the sole spokesman for the Bloomfield Community Football League patrons, addressed the board soliciting their support for a school team -- starting with play in the fall of 2013 on a junior varsity schedule.
A varsity team playing a varsity schedule would not take the field until the fall of 2016 under the proposal.
In support of the football initiative, Starr and the football supporters have pledged to annually provide one-half of the operating costs of the program.
Starr, a retired U.S. Navy First Lieutenant, who co-directs the school's award-winning Naval Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) program, said initially, 9th through 12th graders would play a JV schedule for the first three years. During the same period, 7th and 8th graders would engage in a junior high school schedule.
All games, until a home field could be constructed, would be played on the road or by using rented facilities at area schools, including Linton-Stockton, North Daviess and Eastern Greene, according to Starr.
Starr noted that until a home field is ready for use there would be limited revenue. Cost for rental of fields was estimated from $350 to $500 a game with another $300 per game spent on officials.
"Until a revenue stream is created, the community (football league) would continue to fund half of the annual operating costs while the school would fund the remaining half," Starr told the board.
In his opening remarks, Bloomfield Superintendent Dan Sichting made it clear that the board, in his view, has no intentions to get involved in an outdoor athletic facility construction project until at least 2018.
The school district will close on the purchase a 22-acre site located about eight miles south of Bloomfield, just off of U.S. 231, in early December.
Sichting stressed, "I want everyone to understand, the board will not be making any type of decision tonight on anything."
He added, "There will not be construction right away because of our debt. We have debt. This board, I do not believe, will vote to increase taxes nor do I think some of you want them to increase your taxes. We will build as debt comes off. Debt will come off and then we are scheduled to do a renovation at the high school. The high school was built in 1985...There will be renovation that happens at the high school first. After that renovation happens, barring any unforeseen maintenance issues that we don't see that crops up, we will be doing a project around 2018 that would possibly include building outdoor athletic facilities on the land that we bought."
Bloomfield High School has not played football for 70 years -- fielding its last team in the fall of 1942.
Commemorating that final Cardinal gridiron team, Starr addressed the school board standing before more than 75 proponents of starting a football program wearing a crimson-colored football jersey with the number 42 displayed on the front and back.
The Bloomfield Youth Football League was formed in 2001 with students in grades K-12 participating.
Starr pointed out that over the last two or three years increasing number of students have transferred from Bloomfield to football playing schools in the immediate area -- costing the school district an estimated $103,000 in lost revenue each year.
Star put the number of transferees who are playing football at either Linton, North Daviess or Eastern at 18 and said it could be as high as 25.
"This does not take into consideration the number of students who never enroll in Bloomfield because the school does not sponsor football since there is no way to determine that number," he said. "Likewise, it is difficult to speculate just how many students might transfer to Bloomfield as a result of this decision. In the end, the loss of revenue to the school could easily top $200,000 annually."
Starr estimates the first year cost of a junior varsity program to be about $25,000, dropping to $13,500 the second year and less than $11,700 the third year. The junior high program would cost about $11,000 to start with the cost decreasing to $9,000 the second year and $8,600 the third year.
Summing up his remarks Starr, who received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his presentation, said, "Additional opportunities for students means fewer kids getting in trouble. For some, it will serve as the necessary incentive to keep their grades up. For others, it might be the only physical exercise they get. For all, it will be another opportunity to bond with our children and each other while there is still time. These children will likely never play sports after high school. This time in their lives will be gone soon if action does not occur quickly, and another group will have been left saying, 'I wish we had had a team'. Renewing Bloomfield's football tradition is a win-win situation."