The Cedar Grove Board of Education will attempt to at long last resolve an ongoing athletic field scheduling conflict after a local resident presented some ideas to the board.
Cedar Grove Soccer Club Vice President Greg Dilley told the board he has not had an easy time acquiring athletic field space for his club.
Field space is given in a hierarchical order starting with school athletic programs, educational clubs, recreation athletics and finally independent clubs, said Dilley.
The soccer club is a non-profit group dedicated to promoting soccer throughout the township. The club consists of Cedar Grove alumni who coach soccer for children from pre-K to eighth grade.
“We are the last in line,” he said. “Other groups take what they want and whatever scraps are left are for us.”
In addition, seasonal sports also get dibs on the fields as well which means basketball gets first pick in winter and baseball gets first choice in spring.
Other organizations often reserve field space on a 24-7 basis, Dilley said, and only use the fields for a fraction of the time.
The soccer club, which typically has about 200 children, is losing participants because families will not register their children until there is a time and location to avoid scheduling conflicts, he said.
Another problem, he said, is the group is not told what is available so its up to the club to apply for a time and place which is either approved or denied — a process he called “shooting in the dark.”
“We are all taxpaying residents and we should all get a shot,” he said. “There has to be a process change.”
The board unanimously agreed something needs to be done to allow an equal opportunity of playtime for each organization.
Board members discussed different ideas, such as holding a roundtable discussion with members of each club to figure out times for everyone.
“I would think there should be a date where everyone meets and a representative from each organization talks it through with whoever is in charge of scheduling,” said Cedar Grove Board of Education President Frank Mandala. “They should talk about a wish list, go from there and negotiate times.”
The board’s thinking was with several school fields, there should be ample room for all the sports to coexist.
“We hope to have an answer by the next board meeting,” said Mandala.
Until then, the board will have to look into:
- Defining field space by sport
- Determine recreation programs versus club teams
- Look into policies regarding blanket scheduling
- Hold a roundtable discussion
- Make sure the calendar is up to date
The next Cedar Grove Board of Education meeting will be held 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 26 at the North End School Media Center.