Academic Decathlon team loses advisors, future looks bleak

— At that time, Kelly warned the board that the future looked even worse — and more expensive — if the team continued to advance to the finals every year, with the next three national competitions being held in Hawaii, Alaska and California. To travel to Hawaii next year would cost about $16,000 in travel costs, which does not include the regular material costs and local travel costs.

The district’s policy is, and has been, to fund the team advisor and the purchase of the yearly study materials, and to bus the team to local and regional competitions, but it cannot afford the cost of sending a team across the U.S. to nationals. This caveat created an issue in that the state and the national AD organization both recently declared that for a team to compete at the state level it must commit at the beginning of the school year to travel to nationals if it wins. The discussion in Cazenovia – and other school districts – has therefore become: If we can’t afford to go to nationals, why compete at states and so why even have a team if it cannot compete to win?

When news of the AD team’s financial plight publicly broke, many members of the team, parents and district residents misinterpreted the issue to mean the team’s yearly funding had been “cut” by the school board in the 2013-14 budget. This issue was broached again at the board’s July 9 meeting when AD team parent Barb Axelson asked the board for an update on the team’s situation and also why the AD program was “going by the wayside.”

Dubik and school board members said nothing has changed in the way the team has been supported this year, that the budget includes funding for supplies and advisors, but a trip to nationals cannot be funded by the district.

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