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Plattsburgh city school’s budget cuts

School athletics programs suffer from loss of funding

Denise Durkin, whose twin daughters participate in basketball, soccer and track and field, said athletics has been an important part of their lives. Her daughters are pictured above with the Plattsburgh Hornets girl’s varsity basketball team.

Denise Durkin, whose twin daughters participate in basketball, soccer and track and field, said athletics has been an important part of their lives. Her daughters are pictured above with the Plattsburgh Hornets girl’s varsity basketball team. Photo by Shaun Kittle.

— For some, the new Plattsburgh City School District budget is cutting into something deeper than funding.

As parents and coaches in the school district struggle to figure out ways to work with less, one thing remains clear to them — the education, and the health, of local children has been sacrificed. 

C. Joseph Staves, director of physical education, athletics and health services at Stafford Middle School in Plattsburgh, has made it his life’s work to cultivate the fitness of his students.

“The most important aspect of our lives is our physical well being,” Staves said.

The latest round of voter-approved budget cuts took a large bite out of the district’s athletics program, resulting in the loss of coaching assistants, Class “B” modified sports and gymnastics.

And that, Staves said, is detrimental to children.

“All the cuts people talk about, in education, city and state government, are taking away the programs that benefit people’s well-being, whether it’s fitness programs for seniors or children, or athletics in schools,” Staves said. “People see that sort of thing as a luxury, and it’s not.”

Staves stressed that athletics play an integral role in correcting some of the issues facing society today.

“We have an obesity epidemic,” Staves said. “Taking kids out of sports makes their lives more sedentary.”

Staves also said that being involved in activities like athletics helps youngsters learn teamwork, social interaction skills and problem solving and that involvement can also decrease drop-out rates.

“Whether it’s athletics, music or drama, they all provide opportunities for young people to develop those skills,” Staves said. “We can either pay for it now, or we can pay for it later.”

That statement is rooted in Staves’s observation that every successful society has a successful educational system. By not investing in our youth now, we might be investing in future bad behavior.

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