Springs parents have come together to form the Springs Booster Club to raise $35,000 in funds to restore from the 2012-13 Springs School budget.
When the district passed its $24.64 million budget in May, it did so while cutting interscholastic sports for middle schoolers in order to come in under the state-mandated tax spending increase cap.
This summer, parents have been meeting with administrators in and the , where middle school students have gone for decades to play most sports, to try and iron out the details of how to handle the $35,000 they need raise to keep 38 boys and girls playing this coming school year.
Football, wrestling, co-ed track, co-ed cross country, golf, boys and girls lacrosse, and tennis, as well as any junior varsity opportunity for eighth graders who might qualify to play at the high school level, are all on the line. With fall sports practices starting as early as the end of August, the clock is ticking fast.
Without the funding, Springs students can only play four team sports; girls and boys soccer, girls and boys basketball, girls softball, boys baseball.
Mary McPartland, one of the parents leading the effort, said the fundraising really couldn't begin until the Springs district agreed to accept the funding in the first place.
The funding the booster club raises will be funneled to the Springs PTA, which will hand it over to the Springs School to cover expenses for equipment, coaching fees, transportation, league/referee and field costs.
Car washes, bake sales, and raffles are planned throughout the rest of the summer.
Springs students aren't the only ones affected. East Hampton's athletic director, Coach Joseph Vasile-Cozzo, said the East Hampton teams will take a hit.
East Hampton football will be down 8 players, track down 15, lacrosse, 7, wrestling, 5. "The numbers across the board are pretty substantial," McPartland said.
There are also two kids, she said, that want to try out for JV swimming and soccer.
In a letter asking for donations, McPartland wrote, "As you can imagine, this news has been met with incredible disappointment among students and families in Springs – and equally among teammates, families, and school coaches in East Hampton. They are as dismayed as we are, as for years athletes from our hamlet have been a cornerstone of consolidated East Hampton-Springs programs and contribute greatly to the esprit de corps and friendships within our local sports community."
Vasile-Cozzo also noted that student-athletes who aren't able to play during middle school may lose interest by the time they reach high school, not to mention skill level and ability.
The district wants to see the money by Sept. 1. But, McPartland and others are hoping to convince the school board to accept the funds in waves, as it is raised.The Old Montauk Athletic Club, which puts on the Great Bonac Footrace, has recently indicated it would put on an event this fall to help the Booster Club.
Businesses and individuals, like Mark Rubenstein East Hampton Indoor Tennis, have already stepped forward with donations. Students are selling raffle tickets for various items. Vito Sisti invited the kids to sell tickets at the Springs Farmers Market, and Kristi Hood invited them to her store every morning of Labor Day weekend.
Those interested in contributing may send donations by mail to the Springs PTA at the Springs School, School Street, East Hampton, NY, 11937. Checks should be marked, "Athletics."