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Back-to-School Special Section Archives The Altamont Enterprise, August 26, 2010

All for one: BKW Sports Boosters raise funds to close budget gap

By Zach Simeone

BERNE — To make up for budget cuts, students and staff from all teams of Berne-Knox-Westerlo’s athletic department will ring in the school year with a fund-raising barbecue and yard sale.

The BKW Sports Boosters will hold the fund-raiser on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Berne Town Park. The chicken barbecue will begin at 1 p.m. Each dinner will cost $9, and will include a half chicken; baked potato; coleslaw; and dessert.

“This was originally going to be a cross-country and track fund-raiser,” said Maria Tedeschi, an assistant track and cross-country coach. “I said, ‘Let’s offer it to everyone. The more people come together, the more participate, the more money we’ll make.’”

Members of all 21 teams are participating, from the fall, spring, and winter sports seasons.

“The school district has never done a fund-raiser with every sports team before, so this will be a first,” said Tedeschi.

Following the drastic state aid cuts, BKW residents voted down a $19.7-million budget in May. Two days later, the school board adopted a contingency plan.

In addition to her coaching duties, Tedeschi had also done office work as a keyboard specialist, but this job was one of nearly 20 that were cut during budget season this past spring. Last week, however, it was reinstated after Denise Robinson resigned as keyboard specialist and was appointed as special education assistant.

“I had a little month-and-a-half vacation,” she joked.

The athletic department was taken to the cutting board as well, and the district had planned to cut all junior varsity teams from the district’s athletic program, with the exception of girls’ and boys’ basketball, and cheerleading — a third of BKW’s sports teams. This would have saved $36,000. However, BKW coaches identified last-minute savings in other areas that allowed the district to keep all of its sports teams.

“By cutting our equipment and supplies, we were able to save them,” Tedeschi said of the sports teams. “So, we’re doing this fund-raiser to offset losing that, and the kids will be able to use some of the money that is raised for their own specific sporting needs.”

Every BKW athlete has been sent tickets to the fund-raiser, along with information on the event, which is free to whoever wants to attend. A variety of other activities will accompany the food and yard sale, including pony rides.

“Each team is just going above and beyond,” said Tedeschi. “I know the cheerleaders are doing face-painting; another team is serving popcorn that day; so, one of the parents of the cross-country team has ponies, and she said, ‘Why don’t we do pony rides?’”

And, if all goes well, this may be the first of many program-wide fund-raisers.

“If it’s a success, we’re going to do something every season,” Tedeschi said. “In the winter, if it goes good, maybe we will do a big spaghetti dinner, with all teams participating.”

So far, she said, the feedback has been positive.

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