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Future of high school Academic Decathlon team uncertain

Increasing cost of the program, especially travel, may force its discontinuance

— The Cazenovia High School Academic Decathlon team advisor told the school board at its last meeting that the high costs of the program, coupled with the financial straits of the district, may not allow the program to continue in Cazenovia unless actions are taken to help fund the team. The large and last-minute fundraising the club did this year to be able to attend the national competition in Minnesota took a huge toll on the students and the advisors, and was not something that could be expected to occur every year.

“Decisions need to be made,” said team advisor and high school teacher Marty Kelly. “Obviously there needs to be a change. We can’t continue on the same path we are on today.”

The Cazenovia High School AD team has been a powerhouse in New York state, advancing to nationals eight of the last nine years. This year the team placed seventh in its division and 36th out of 53 national teams, with three members bringing home individual medals and awards.

“We’re recognized by many teams as a veteran team in the small schools category,” Kelly told the board.

The success has come at a cost, however, especially this year, when the team spent one month organizing and holding multiple fundraisers to raise the $6,500 needed to travel to nationals. Their fundraising success caused huge stress on the students to keep up with their regular studies, their AD team practices, other extracurricular activities they were involved in and the fundraising itself, Kelly said.

The next three years will be even more expensive for the team if it advances to the national finals again — which the team fully expects and intends to do — with the next three national competitions being held in Hawaii, Alaska and California, Kelly said. 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, he said. The school district’s austere finances do not allow it to pay for these costs.

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