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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Bloomfield School Board hears discussion for starting a football program

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Frank Starr, at the podium in the rear of the photo, addresses the Bloomfield School Board Tuesday night with a presentation requesting for the school to start a football program. In the foreground, from left, is board president Dewayne Hostetter, board member Bill Bond, board member Steve Dowden and Supt. Dan Sichting.
(By Nick Schneider)
The facts, concerns, and potential benefits of starting a school-sponsored football program were aired as part of Tuesday night's Bloomfield School Board meeting.

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."

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Yesterday Mr. Sichting said we need to have facilities before we start football. Today he said facilities will not be considered before 2018. It appears as though this group of jr high and high school students will not see either one! Hopefully if we keep losing students due to lack of football and facilities we can drop down to 1-A basketball. That is really all that matters!

-- Posted by iowp32 on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 5:47 AM

I know Mr. Sicting probably wasn't very interested in what was being said but I believe it was very disrespectful to be nodding in and out of sleep the entire time.

-- Posted by theotherside on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 7:42 AM

I am sure that when Mr. Sichting brought his daughters to the school that he was happy that his oldest daughter got the opportunity to participate in the choir and the drama club, an opportunity which I know she was very happy to have. Many schools are reducing their funding for performing arts programs as they struggle with budgets, but I'm sure he was glad to have that opportunity available.

I am also sure that he was glad to have the opportunity for his younger daughter to participate in softball throughout her high school career. I am sure that he believes there are skills and lessons she learned through her sports participation that she would not have learned in the classroom.

The community is just hoping that he, as well as the other school board members, will seriously consider increasing the opportunities for students so that everyone has the opportunity to find an activitiy that they can be passionate about.

Sitting in a community that is bordered on on side by the foundation of a bowling alley that was never rebuilt and on the other side by a building that used to be a roller rink that has been left to decay, sitting in a community where the Boys and Girls club had to close due to funding and the few attempts to start businesses with video games that catered to students have failed, sitting in a community where the swimming pool which is one of the few activities left for our children is annually under threats of closure...whether it is football or not, it is the responsibility....it is the obligation of every adult in the community to work to bring new activities, new opportunities for our communities children to enhance their future potential.

-- Posted by RB on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 9:41 AM

Love the negative comments....attack Mr. Sichting. Attack Basketball.

Good job people! hahaha

-- Posted by GCman on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 11:06 AM

Just being curious....I wonder who they would look to coach? Candidate list for a program starting at the infant stage......

-- Posted by GCman on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 11:21 AM

I'm really glad that the football program exists in some form to give kids who want to play that option. I know that a community league is not ideal, and that they'd rather be affiliated with the school for various reasons.

In an ideal world, I would want that for them.

However, considering that we have a sport that we can't even have home meets for...track...I don't know how adding something new could be justified.

-- Posted by just sayin'... on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 11:22 AM

Mr. Sichting is demonstrating leadership that is content with the status quo. Leadership requires vision and the willingness to take risk, along with listening and understanding fresh ideas. If he is too comfortable in his well paid, tax payer funded job, that he is unwilling to do any of this its time for him to retire.

This school is blessed to have LCDR Starr. He has the passion, desire and willingness to do the hard work to press this topic. Keep up the fight

-- Posted by iron6horse on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 12:23 PM

The school is not going to take a risk like this having to fund half the operating cost until a field is built. Then, there is no gurantee of revenue after that. Take a look at the declining crowd at the basketball games over the last 10 years in a basketball town. A lot of things including the economy are responsible for this. Football will not be any different and expensive under tough times for schools. Just facts folks.

-- Posted by EvenPar76 on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 12:26 PM

My two cents worth....

Comments on here and on the street attacking basketball will win the football crowd no support.

Personally attacking folks will drive a wedge into the community and football will NEVER be played here.

Bloomfield has THE WORST sports facilities (track, tennis courts, baseball diamond, softball diamond and cross country) of any school we have on our schedules, except Union. I would even throw in the Junior High gym in that category. Now, we want to start another sport that we have no facilities for?

RB...all the things you mentioned that Bloomfield used to have, are gone for a reason. Money...or lack, thereof. Our local economy is very soft and has been for quite some time. Tax revenues are down, school funding is down, personal incomes are down. If all the local economic indicators are down, how can you justify starting a football program that will be VERY expensive to start and maintain? I would venture a guess that even the highest achieving football schools struggle to break even with their football revenue.

I love football. I wanted football at BHS when I attended. I think it would provide great opportunities for kids to get involved in athletics and learn discipline. But good ideas are not always feasible ideas in hard times. Take a look at the shape our country is in....spending beyond our means on ideas that appear good but that we cannot afford!

Mike Toon

-- Posted by mbtoon on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 1:36 PM

And yet meanwhile with the limited money in the community it still manages to support three adult-only establishments on Main Street alone.

Football may not be the right opportunity for the community to pursue, but if the community wants to survive it is going to have to learn to invest in its future by investing in its children.

Right now when the community's young adults go to movies or go out to eat or go shopping most are taking their money (or more likely their parent's money) out of the community to do so. They are going to Bloomington or to Terre Haute because there is little that holds their interest in town. It's great to drive by Yer Studio and see the young girls dancing and knowing that they have something here to be involved in, a way to make friends, a place to make memories, an activity that ties them to the community instead of pulling them away from it.

If Bloomfield wants to grow, to evolve, and to continue to attract new residents it has to invest in increasing the opportunities in the area.

If establishing a football team in Bloomfield attracted just 2 students...just 2 from other area schools that still don't have a program or by convincing students who have left to return the school would gain enough in state funds to pay for 50% of the program....that's just 2 students. But the same could be said of soccer or gymnastics or wrestling or establishing an orchestra or of increased acadmic courses. It takes attracting very few students to justify the added costs. And any of those might be a better opportunity for the community if there was an advocate that wanted to support them. But the status quo isn't going to help Bloomfield to grow.

It is going to cause new residents to the area to think twice about the aging community, it is going to cause students who spent their youth travelling to Bloomington or Terre Haute for activities to be reluctant to stay. Using the excuse that their are limited funds to invest in the community will eventually cause more opportunities to diminish (how long will the swimming pool be there, how long will the new child oriented businesses be able to survive) which will result in even less money in the community in the future. And eventually as the schools shrink and (that ugly word) consolidation becomes the only realistic option and the community ages, Bloomfield will become a shadow of its former self.

(and please note that repeatedly I mentioned that football is not the only (or even best) route forward, but that the community does need to invest in growing opportunities of any kind if it wants to thrive)

-- Posted by RB on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 2:53 PM

I think it would be great if we had all of those things you mentioned. But don't you first have to have the capital to invest it? Are you suggesting we incur debt to pay for these programs? I could be wrong, but I do not believe that increasing enrollment would bring state funding to pay for football. I don't believe that theory for a minute.

Bloomfield is a SMALL TOWN. Small towns do not have all the luxeries that larger towns or cities have! Why? Because there are not enough people living here to start or support businesses that you mention! Just like it would be great to have swimming/diving, wrestling, soccer, gymnastics, field hockey and other sports at Bloomfield....there just is not enough tax base to support EVERYTHING WE WANT!

Our athletic programs now are fueled by players (parents) selling candles, t-shirts, cups and candy bars. Even with that, we still have to pay for camps, tournaments, warm-ups and shoes. I am willing to pay my fair share for my kids to participate in sports. I will not, however, endorse deficit spending by our school corporation in order to have the "luxuries" of school systems with a broader tax base. It's Economics 101.

-- Posted by mbtoon on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 3:41 PM

couldn't you use the football field at crane?

-- Posted by thunderoad on Wed, Nov 28, 2012, at 6:14 PM

If you were able to attract more students or if students who left to go to another school that had football came back, the federal and state money the school corporation would gain by this would be used to educate those additional students. There are guidelines for how money can be spent and I am pretty sure state and federal funds could not be used to fund a football program.

-- Posted by interested bystander on Thu, Nov 29, 2012, at 8:27 AM

The money the school gets per student from federal and state sources goes into a general fund for the school.

Annually the school board gathers to create a budget. A substantial amount of the budget goes to teacher and administrator salaries, a smaller portion to facilities, a still smaller portion goes to purchasing technology and supplies required for educating the students and running the business of the school, other items the school budgets for are transportation, providing school lunches, and buying materials for the library, and then some of that budget does indeed go to school sponsored activities, athletics, convocations, holiday decorations and any other miscallaneous item that the school board feels is in the best interest of the students without putting an undue burden on the taxpayers.

So of course 100% of funds from students attracted would not go directly to a football program, but increasing the funds available to the school, increases the funds available for all activities including football if it was added. What that also means is that if an activity draws more students to the school and the budget goes up, then there is also more money available to hire new teachers or maintain the facilities or invest in new technology. With the way the state allocates money for education and a set dollar value per student, quite simply more is always better.

If the school board elects to provide the approximate $10,000 requested by the football league to establish a team and then 2 new students are attracted or re-enroll in the school, the state will supply an additional approximate $10,000 to the school for a net loss of $0. Although that is not directly taking federal money and giving it directly to the footabll program, the net result is the same. If 4 new students enroll or re-enroll, then the school board has an increased budget available for next school year to invest in other areas of their choosing.

Of course a small community can't offer everything, but I am not certain that's solely due to budget, but because of lack of participants. A school can justify adding a course in a new foreign language if only a couple students choose to enroll, they can't justify adding a new sport if only a couple students want to participate. But if other local schools are adding activities and adding academics and drawing students away, the school and the community can't just sit back and not do anything. Somewhere near 20 students who were formerly at Bloomfield are playing football at other area schools. That doesn't count students who were formerly at Bloomfield that transferred, but don't play football. With each of those student transfers the school lost over $5000 from it's operating budget. Over $100,000 that has gone to other area schoools. What does that do. Well it allows the other schools to add even more activities and academics that can draw even more students away. As those schools grow and build, Bloomfield is left to dwindle and then a billboard certainly isn't going to save them.

If Bloomfield doesn't remain competitive with the other schools in the area in this day and age of being able to transfer tuition free, students have little incentive to stay. If they aren't willing to invest in growing the community and providing for the students, then they might as well just vote to shut the doors now and send the students off to some place that will provide opportunities for them.

-- Posted by RB on Thu, Nov 29, 2012, at 10:17 AM

Bloomfield is a great school, with or without football. BY adding a sport - you are not magically enriching the student's educational process.

Such a HUGE over exaggeration of what football will do for the school. "Little incentive to stay"...really?

Check the education scores recently in the paper. Bloomfield has more than a share of educational reasons to stay and enroll.

Mike Toon's comments are precise and intelligent. Do what is best, not what is most popular.

Stop blaming other sports, stop blaming Mr. Sichting, look at our current facilities. Look at our current financial issues.

Bloomfield has football - it is called a Community team. Serving its purpose.

Take your negativity and go somewhere else. Bloomfield is doing just fine.

-- Posted by GCman on Thu, Nov 29, 2012, at 12:57 PM

The solution...Simple. The State needs to return to the days of having to pay tuition if you transfer you kids to another school. That would reduce the number more than adding another sport.

-- Posted by EvenPar76 on Fri, Nov 30, 2012, at 9:29 AM

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