Rootstown tables girls' soccer decision

By Deborah Guziak Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The Rootstown Board of Education delayed a decision Monday on the creation of a girl's soccer team after concerns were raised that a two-year trial period for the team was discriminatory.

During a standing room only meeting, the board tabled a recommendation that a high school girls' varsity soccer team be created after a two-year trial period, after parent Tracey Colecchi said the recommendation was not acceptable to the girls.

Colecchi asked the board during its Monday meeting to waive the trial period so the girls, some of whom are juniors, could be recognized and receive an athletic letter. The recognition could help some team members earn college scholarships.

She told the board the district was discriminating against females in the district, under Title IX regulations, by not allowing a girls' varsity soccer team when a soccer team already exists for boys.

Girls are allowed to play on the boys' soccer team if they make it, however, Colecchi said a mixed team did not allow for equal playing talents.

Colecchi, who was supported by about nine girls, told the board the recommendation on the board's agenda did not satisfy the needs of the girls.

The existing high school soccer team was created in 1994, and its two-year trial period expired last year. Students participating in it this year are eligible to be recognized and awarded an athletic letter.

While the board told Colecchi they understood her concerns as many of the members had daughters, a woman in the audience said it would not be fair if the girls' team was created and the two-year trial period waived.

"The boys had to go through a two-year trial period," she said. "It's not fair to waive the period for the girls and not the boys."

In other business, some bus drivers opposed the proposed purchase of two transit school buses because of safety reasons and cost factors.

"We were all trained on conventional buses," said one unidentified bus driver. "These (transit) buses have the drivers sitting more to the left, so it looks like you're driving down the center of the road."

The driver said the seat's position would cause a driver to want to drive more to the right, which may cause accidents with mailboxes or cars traveling to the right of the bus.

Another concern was the shape of the transit bus' front, which many drivers said would be dangerous to bus drivers involved in head-on collisions.

Other problems of the transit buses included special tire sizes and special tools for the buses. The buses also won't fit in the bus garage, the drivers reported.

The drivers also said that the two proposed bus purchases were not enough to satisfy the district's needs, and one driver suggested the board investigate a lease-to-own program that may allow the district to build and replace its fleet in a cost-effective manner.

Superintendent Robert Hoover said, as of last week, the district no longer leases buses from Laidlaw Transit. The district currently has 13 buses.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in the elementary school library to discuss both issues.

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