2009-09-03 / News

High school freshman football restored, athletic director resigns

By Eileen M. Daly

The North Kingstown School Committee restored freshman football by unanimous vote during its Aug. 26 meeting, but the fate of boys’ and girls’ freshman basketball remains undecided.

The committee recently cut all freshman sports in anticipation of drastic reductions in state aid. But some committee members said there is money available for the restoration of freshman sports, while others counsel against making such decisions until the money is in hand.

N.K. School Committee member Doug Roth expressed his support for restoring all freshman sports programs.

“We have the money now, so let’s go ahead and re-instate all three,” Roth said, referring to the freshman football and basketball programs. Funds from savings garnered through pension reform, from higher-than-estimated state aid and from savings accumulated through attrition can fund the programs, according to Roth.

But committee member Lynda Avanzato took a more cautious approach.

“We don’t have this money in hand yet,” she said of the savings from pension reform. “And the governor has just announced further cuts so I don’t think we should be spending until we have the money in hand.”

Committee Vice Chairman April Brunelle said she would like to see the athletic budget reviewed before programs are restored, while committee member Kimberly Page voted for the restoration of all freshman sports.

Jamestown School Committee member and liaison to the North Kingstown School Committee Bucky Brennan favors keeping sports in play.

“I support keeping all sports, provided funding is available. There were two forms of funding sources available to the school committee: offer of private or unreserved fund balance. A budget is just that when developed, and can be tweaked and moved with administration and school committee consensus. We do it all the time in Jamestown. It gives us the ability to react to need throughout the year,” Brennan said.

As to why football was restored over other sports, committee members again differed in their opinions.

Brunelle said she proposed starting with the football team because they’ve been practicing all summer.

According to Brennan, the decision to restore football over other sports was the school committee’s attempt to micromanage in order to mitigate perceived impropriety.

The resignation of Keith Kenyon, longtime high school athletic director, has also divided committee members. In a written statement released Aug. 26, Kenyon stated that he was offering his resignation with “great sadness,” but that he felt the “difficult and emotional decision” would be in the best interest of himself, his family and the athletic program.

“Over the last several months, attention to my employment situation has detracted from the success and the accomplishments of students, coaches, teams and clubs along with the outstanding volunteer efforts of parents and our dedicated Booster Club members both past and present,” Kenyon said.

Jamestown Liaison Member Brennan offered strong support of Kenyon.

“This is very unfortunate for the district. Mr. Kenyon has been an excellent mentor for student athletes, as well as all the other students at North Kingstown High School that he has interacted with . . .which is almost every kid,” he said. He also expressed his belief that Kenyon’s departure will have a negative impact on athletics at the high school.

“When he (Kenyon) was away previously on leave, there was turmoil at the high school. While everyone is replaceable, he was very good at what he does. It will be a long time before a new person will bring the sports at NK together the way Keith did,” Brennan said.

Interim Athletic Director Jim Marcello has been appointed to fill Kenyon’s role until a permanent replacement is named.

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