Worcester Superintendent Pushes for Return of Middle School Sports

For many school districts in Massachusetts, funding is incredibly tight, and sports are often among the first things on the chopping block.

Once they're gone, bringing athletics back can be an even bigger challenge.

"It would require the coaches, of course transportation, cost of referees, equipment and a coordinator to coordinate the games," said Worcester Public Schools Superintendent Maureen Binienda.

But Binienda — a former field hockey and cheerleading coach — wants to try to answer the community's call to bring team sports back to the city's middle schools.

"That has a lot of advantages, mentally, physically, emotionally, and it's going to help with socialization, helps you be a member of a team," said UMass Memorial Sports Medicine Physician Dr. Nick DeAngelis.

Dr. DeAngelis says especially for middle school students, who no longer have recess, regular physical activity at their age creates lifelong healthy habits.

"It's pretty clearly shown that people do better in school if they have these kind of outlets," said Dr. DeAngelis.

The superintendent says she's figured out a way to consolidate a new building maintenance position and free up about $70,000 in funding to provide two sports teams — both boys and girls — for each of the middle schools for fall, winter and spring.

"I really understand the importance of sports for students and the relationships, how important they are to each other," Binienda said.

Parents are hopeful it will happen.

"Because the kids wouldn't be hanging outside, just doing nothing," said middle school parent Richard Burbo.

"It would keep him off the phone because they would be more and more active in the sport," said Carlos Roman, another middle school parent.

The superintendent will be meeting Tuesday with the city council, school committee, middle school principals and people in the community to discuss this proposal.

If they're in favor of it, it would be included in budget negotiations for the 2018-2019 school year.

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