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Some sports teams benched this fall

The Lackawanna School District will be fielding fewer athletic teams during the next school year because of a temporary lack of facilities and, in some cases, a lack of interest.

An $8.5 million renovation project at the high school is responsible for the suspension of boys and girls varsity track and tennis.

Boys varsity swimming is the victim of a lack of participation, and a one-year suspension of boys varsity and junior varsity soccer is the result of disciplinary problems.

For the majority of the sidelined sports, "The plan is to bring them all back for the [2008-09] school year because we will have the renovations done," Superintendent Paul G. Hashem said Wednesday.

Though the dissolution of the girls varsity soccer program also was recommended by Athletic Director Heidi A. Steckstor because of lack of participation, the School Board wants it restored, Hashem said. District officials are investigating whether it still is possible to fit the team into the competitive schedule.

At its meeting Wednesday night, the board unanimously approved a roster of coaches recommended by Steckstor.

Coaches were selected for the following boys programs: varsity and junior varsity football; varsity, junior varsity and modified basketball; varsity and modified wrestling; varsity and junior varsity baseball; varsity bowling; and modified soccer.

The other boys soccer programs were suspended for a year -- and face three years' probation upon reinstatement -- because of unsportsmanlike conduct. The suspension, approved by the School Board last November, came after numerous offenses during and after the team's final game of the season.

Coaches were approved for the following girls programs: varsity swimming, varsity and junior varsity volleyball; varsity and junior varsity cheerleading; varsity and junior varsity basketball; varsity and junior varsity softball; and varsity bowling.

While the pool has been out of commission for years, the program has continued at other venues. Pool repairs account for about $1.6 million of the renovation budget.

The projects' cost to taxpayers is $420,000 plus interest, thanks to state aid. According to district officials, that breaks down to 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $6 a year for a home assessed at $60,000.

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