The girls’ junior varsity tennis team was cut from the North Syracuse Central School District’s 2013-14 budget, but that wasn’t the end of the team.
With the help of the North Syracuse Education Foundation (NSEF), the team was able to raise enough money on their own to be reinstated last season. They’re looking to do the same for the 2014-15 school year.
Jackie Forte is in charge of a group of parents working to raise money for the team.
“Teachers aren’t allowed to fundraise, so parents and students need to do it,” Forte said. “I’m helping to organize the parents and the players, along with the coaches.”
Forte said the tennis program was one of a number of programs cut in the 2013-14 budget.
“Any of the programs cut two years ago remain cut this year, and they probably will for quite a while,” she said. “Although the district would like to bring them back, without an increase in state funding, it’s not going to happen.”
The team’s major fundraiser, a carnival, will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, July 26, at Cicero-North Syracuse High School on Route 31. Forte said there will be a schedule of activities broken up by age group as follows:
9 to 11 a.m. Tiny tots (ages 4 through 8)
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Shot takers (ages 8 through 12)
1 to 3 p.m. Shot makers (juniors ages 12 and up)
3 to 5 p.m. Adults (18 and over)
The fundraiser also includes a bake sale, gift baskets to be raffled off and a garage sale. There is no rain date, so the carnival will go on, rain or shine. All funds raised with benefit the team.
“The money we raise will go toward reinstating this year’s program,” Forte said. “Any extra will go towards supplementing next year’s program, because we anticipate this will be a problem again next year.”
The total cost of running the team for the 2014-15 school year is $5,131, Forte said.
“Every year, [the cost to field the team] goes up, because we have to include facilities, coaching fees, transportation. It’s really tough,” she said. “Kids typically buy their own uniforms, so that’s the bare minimum.”
Forte said the team is important to provide a foundation for future participation in the sport.
“We really need to try to maintain the JV program to save the varsity team,” she said. “There isn’t a lot of opportunity in the Syracuse community for kids to play tennis in a school setting. They need to play JV so they can be prepared to play varsity.”
And the benefits go beyond high school.
“The nice thing about tennis is that it’s a lifelong sport. You can play it right up into your golden years,” Forte said. “It’s a great sport for people going into business; tennis and golf are the two big sports in the business world.”
All of the donations will be going to the NSEF, of which Forte is president, which will then make a targeted donation to the district for the tennis program. The NSEF is a nonprofit organization; according to its website, nsefweb.org, “serves a simple, but comprehensive purpose — to ensure that students in the North Syracuse Central School District have the benefit of a quality education, to maintain and enhance the level of excellence in North Syracuse schools, and to respond to the realities of diminishing local and federal funding. The North Syracuse Education Foundation secures resources to support quality education through innovative programs, creative opportunities, and imaginative approaches. These programs enrich the curriculum, inspire students and staff, and expand the community’s involvement in public education.” Since 2003, the organization has funded 73 district programs.
The tennis program is just one of 13 the NSEF is helping to reinstate for the upcoming school year.
“There were several programs cut last year,” Forte said. “We sat down with the district and identified 13 groups in the district who are without funding for the coming year. The total to run all of those groups is $38,742. Those groups have agreed to do some of their own fundraising. There were others that didn’t want to try.”
None of the programs identified by the NSEF have their own 501c3 booster clubs; Forte said the district works with the clubs to reinstate those programs if they were cut.
The groups are as follows:
Cicero-North Syracuse High School’s Academic Decathlon team
C-NS Math League
C-NS Science Olympiad team
C-NS’s marching band drumline director
Cadet Winterguard and all lower Winterguard programs
North Syracuse Junior High School Jazz Band
NSJHS Science Olympiad team
Roxboro Road Middle School and Gillette Road Middle School SPCLA
JV girls’ tennis
“All of these groups are attempting to fundraise to bring themselves back,” Forte said.
The NSEF will donate $1 for every $2 raised by these organizations up to one-third the total amount needed.
“The district had identified these organizations as something worthwhile, so we wanted to continue them,” Forte said. “[Having these programs] looks good to our students and makes our school more competitive. When they apply for college, they’re more well-rounded because they had more opportunities. It’s especially true of clubs and activities that aren’t athletic. A lot of these clubs are related to academics or the arts, and we keep seeing those being cut. We felt we wanted to support those programs and help them if they were willing to help themselves.”
The programs also provide a supplement to students’ education in the NSCSD.
“Our mission is to enhance the education of the students of the district,” Forte said. “Working through music and sports and extracurricular activities, kids learn a lot about themselves. They learn about working with a team and working in the real world. It’s invaluable to their education.”
If you can’t attend the tennis carnival on July 26, you can still help the program, as well as the other 12 the NSEF is funding. You can mail in a donation, either to a specific club or a general donation. Checks can be made out to NSEF and mailed to P.O. Box 5225, Syracuse, NY 13220.
“If they want to donate to a specific organization, just write it in the memo line or stick a note in with the donation,” Forte said. “Other donations are split across the board.”
Providing aid to these programs, Forte said, is critical to helping students.
“For kids, these clubs might be the only activity they have,” she said. “For some of them, especially the kids in the GSA, they haven’t made public their situation. These clubs provided them with a place to go where they feel they belong and they’re comfortable. It’s so important that we as a district provide them with that.”
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.