Another high school sports merger could soon take place.
Last week it was announced that the Chautauqua Lake Thunderbirds and Maple Grove Red Dragons - both Class D programs - may merge its football programs. If it happens, it would not be the first time in the area. Already, Brocton team members are playing on the Westfield football team and Ripley students are teaming with Sherman.
And, as has been well documented, Chautauqua Lake is no stranger to mergers. The district was formerly made up of the Mayville and Chautauqua districts, consolidated in 1995 to become Chautauqua Lake. It also currently partners with other districts for its boys and girls swimming, wrestling as well as boys tennis and golf.
"One of the things that our board looks at when we possibly have to cancel a program, because of financial constraints or low enrollment, is combining," said Josh Liddell, secondary school principal and athletic director at Chautauqua Lake. "That's been a very successful format for us in the past. These combinations have enabled us to continue to provide our student athletes with co-curricular options."
But while numerous school teams continue to merge, individual districts continue to exist due to longtime traditions in the county. It used to be that school merger votes were defeated, in part, because of neighboring sporting rivalries. That cannot be considered the case today.
So while we wholeheartedly support the mergers of all sporting teams, we think educational quality would also win if the merger process was not as drawn out as it currently is. Maple Grove and Chautauqua Lake only need board approval to make the football teams combine. That's it. No public vote.
Think of the cash - and hurdles - that saves the district. The same could be said of future mergers. If the both boards, elected by district residents, approve a merger, then that needs to be the final say.
Residents voting, as we saw in Brocton's flawed 2009 vote, only further muddies the water.