Concerned about sports numbers and travel time and distance to athletic events, Sharon Springs Central School has begun exploring the possibility of joining forces with nearby Cherry Valley-Springfield or even switching to the Tri-Valley League.
Fall soccer signups look good, Athletic Director Tammy Behr said, but she's a little concerned that there might not be enough athletes to field modified, JV, and varsity basketball teams.
Winter cheerleading numbers also look low, she said.
But the real problem is expected in the spring, where SSCS often struggles to fill softball and, especially, baseball teams and keep them filled for the season.
Other schools are struggling with the same problems; Coach Behr said her counterparts at CV-S have been open to the possibility of merging or sharing teams with SSCS.
There's a wide range of possibilities, she said; the two districts could merge some sports and not others and together, they might be able to offer additional sports including cross-country, wrestling, and volleyball.
"We've done a lot of brainstorming," she said, "but one thing we've already agreed is that we don't want to destroy existing programs by adding new ones."
SSCS is currently a member of the Western Athletic Conference, which includes Section 2, Class B, C, and D schools and Duanesburg, Schoharie, and Middleburgh in the southern division and Canajoharie, Fort Plain, and Northville in the northern division.
The average travel distance to both is about 30 miles and travel time is a about 40-50 minutes.
If SSCS was to switch to the T-VL-an idea that Coach Behr said came out of her informal talks with CV-S-opponents would include Richfield Springs, Worcester and Milford to the east and Franklin, Edmeston, and Laurens to the west.
Average distance would be about the same, but travel time longer-a concern in the winter.
"The east side isn't close, but neither is the north side in our league [WAC]," Coach Behr told school board members.
SSCS is the smallest school in the WAC; all T-VL teams are Section 4 Class D schools.
Coach Behr said she surveyed Spa students about the possibility of switching leagues and got mixed answers.
Some said students would feel "less beat-up" competing against more similar-sized schools and less likely to quit a sport; others said competing against larger schools makes them better and they'd miss playing at the Glens Falls Civic Center.
Coach Behr said there are a variety of options when it comes to switching leagues.
Among them: SSCS could play an independent schedule but still participate in Section 2 Sectionals.
The Spartans could also probably "try out' the T-VL for a sport or two-likely baseball or softball-and see how it goes, she said.
Both Coach Behr and school board members said the right decision will be the one that works the best for students.
But there was also concern that any changes would make it too inconvenient for parents to get kids to and from practices and games.
"I don't think that we can decide right now," said school board member Paul Larkin, "I'd like to see what the parents say. Offer them some options."
Coach Behr agreed to put together a survey that the district will mail out to parents of athletes.