Another hit for Worcester FFA


By Jim Poole

Worcester Central School’s Future Farmers of America took another hit last week when the state stepped in and stopped the students’ raffle.
Surprised by the raffle news, the FFA was already reeling because the popular program may end next year if Worcester’s 2009-10 budget doesn’t include an ag and tech teacher.
Superintendent Gary Kuch said a representative from the state Racing and Wagering Board told him the school and FFA weren’t registered to hold a raffle.
Mr. Kuch consulted the school attorney, who “said we should stop doing it,” the Superintendent said.
FFA members were raffling a Cub Cadet lawn tractor to raise money to go to their state convention.
Besides banning school raffles, state rules also prohibit people younger than 18 from selling raffle tickets, Mr. Kuch said.
Apparently someone contacted the state and alerted officials to the raffle, Mr. Kuch said, even though other school clubs, teams and organizations hold raffles.
He said he didn’t know who contacted state officials.
Mr. Kuch met with FFA students last week and explained the situation.
“I feel badly,” Mr. Kuch said. “All it does is impact our kids. I hate doing this to the kids.”
FFA advisor Karen LaBombard said the FFA Alumni Association is filing the proper papers so that the organization––and not the students––can proceed with the raffle.
“We held a raffle for four years,” Ms. LaBombard said. “Nobody ever said anything. The main goal is just to raise money for the kids.
“I talked to the state FFA. No other chapter in the state had to go through this.”
Raffles by other school groups must also follow state law in the future, Mr. Kuch said.
“This has been a learning experience,” he said. “We’ll play by the rules from now on.”
Ms. LaBombard is the ag and tech teacher whose position may be eliminated in cuts to next year’s budget.
Students must take an ag class in order to be in FFA, and if there is no ag program at Worcester, parents fear there will be no FFA, either.
Parents, many of whom formed the group “Take Back Our School” to support FFA, plan to speak at tonight’s school board meeting.