Albion BOE debates whether to allow more use of varsity softball field for community

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 March 2020 at 4:50 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: Bryce Wilson of the Carlton team pitches in a game under the lights on the Albion varsity softball field on June 10, 2017. The district allows the Albion Midget League to play a game under the lights for players in the league who are in their last year in Little League. The district has allowed the game the past three years.

ALBION – The Board of Education is considering whether it should change the district policy for community use of varsity fields.

The district currently only makes exceptions for use of a varsity field for an all-star or championship game.

The district has much more leeway for the JV fields and many youth sports leagues use those for soccer, softball and baseball.

The district the past three years has allowed the Albion Midget League to have a senior game under the lights. This is for players ages 12 or 13 in their last season of Little League. It’s technically not an all-star game, but the Board of Education has made that exception for one game usually in mid-June.

The district has received a request from the Albion Storm Fastpitch Softball to have four games under the lights on the varsity softball field from May 15 to June 12.

The Albion Storm Fastpitch Softball also requested 30 dates for use of the JV softball field from April 28 to June 18.

The Board of Education discussed the request during Monday’s BOE meeting. District Superintendent Mike Bonnewell said the two requests in May shouldn’t be approved. The varsity team plays May 15 and there is a playoff possibility on May 28 that could be moved to May 29.

The superintendent advised against approving the dates requested for June 5 and June 12.

“I would caution the board because you are caretakers of the property the community has entrusted you.”

Not only does the softball field get use during a game, but part of the varsity soccer field has players on it who are in the outfield.

The school’s policy for restricted usage of the fields states:

“The Board of Education reserves the right to limit access to any specific area of the school facility. The varsity football field, due to its composition, is available only during the ‘off-season’ for occasional non-athletic events (e.g. band competitions).

“The other fields (soccer, softball and baseball) are available for special events such as championship and/or all-star games.”

“The Board of Education endorses use of school facilities by District community groups whenever reasonable and at reasonable costs. Activities for youth should, whenever deemed appropriate by the Superintendent, be allowed at no cost. Other activities should be allowed at reasonable costs as set by the Superintendent and approved by the Board.”

The policy also states school groups get first priority for use of facilities.

If the varsity field use requests are approved, Bonnewell said the district needs to either change the policy or give different groups a waiver.

For the softball request, the players are all Albion district children. Board member Wayne Wadhams said he would like to see they have a chance to play at least one game under the lights. The district has the only lighted field in the community.

“That’s a big deal for kids,” he said.

Board member Elissa Nesbitt also wants to find a way to work with community groups that doesn’t violate the school policy for use of fields.

The board decided to have the softball group resubmit its facility request to only ask for the JV fields for regular-season games.

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