Will $8K block volunteers from football goal?

KINDERHOOK — The Football Committee still has to raise $8,902 to fund the Ichabod Crane Football program for the coming school year, and a small group of committee members met this week to discuss how to raise the funds by the August 14 deadline.

The football program started three years ago as a pilot program funded exclusively by donations raised through a special, independent Football Committee. During that time the committee has raised over $190,000 to start the program and keep it going.

But football became a divisive issue last May, when $31,000 to support the program was added to the proposed school budget. Voters in the district defeated the budget and many reported on exit surveys that taxpayer supported football had been reason.

After several impassioned speeches at board meetings from players, parents and coaches, and a detailed presentation from the Football Committee as to how its members would raise the funds, the school board approved the committee’s request to raise the funds with the requirement that the money must be in place before official practice starts August 15.

The committee will charge admission to games — $3 for adults and $1 for students (including college students) — and to raise money in advance of the season, the group plans to sell season passes for home games. Passes are a $25 for a family of four and $10 for individuals.

The team’s supporters have also been out on the streets collecting money at the farmers market in Kinderhook and at the Village Hoopla event in Valatie.

Cheryl Trefzger, a chair of the committee, said they were asked not to solicit in the street by Kinderhook Village officials but they are asking to the mayor of Valatie for permission to stand on Main Street asking for donations.

The group of eight people, who met Monday, July 25, at the Kinderhook Town Park Pavilion on State Farm Road, said they meet every other week and that those who chair subcommittees meet on the off-weeks to plan. They have been making calls asking for donations and have a fundraiser planned with local radio station WCKL 560 AM.

There is also information about donating money on the district’s website, www.ichabodcrane.org, under the heading for the athletic department.

If the committee does not raise the money in time, the program will be cancelled and any non-cash donations can be refunded. Cash donations will be held in a trust account for the football program.

At the July 12 Board of Education meeting there was a debate over why the football committee stopped fundraising. “At no time did we say stop raising money,” said school board President Andrew Kramarchyk, responding to questions about whether committee members were told to expect that the team would be funded by taxpayers. Mr. Kramrachyk did say they board and the committee “dropped the ball on staying connected” with what the community would support.

In April, after the board approved including the cost of football in the proposed school budget, the committee donated the $17,000 it had raised that school year to the district to offset any costs of the program. That money, donated symbolically, according the interim district Superintendent Lee Bordick, was from funds left over from the 2010 football program held in a trust plus money the group raised more recently.

When the budget was defeated and the board approved the contingency budget that did not include the funds for football, the $17,000 was applied to the $31,000 total the committee needed to raise to keep the program going. Since getting approval from the board July 12, the committee has raised about $6,000, leaving a balance of over $8,000 still to go in the next three weeks.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email .

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