After an hourlong discussion Monday night, the Milton School Board postponed a decision on whether the school district will take ownership of two Milton Broncos youth football teams.
Interim athletic director Trevor Wagar made the case, bookending his presentation with a request the board “not ask us why” to support the proposal “but why not.”
The Broncos approached the school board after reaching consensus to relinquish the 5/6 and 7/8 teams to the school district. The move would transition the tackle programs to padded flag and would follow Vermont Principals’ Association rules and regulations.
The proposal stemmed from parents’ growing fear over the program’s uncertain future as enrollment numbers have dipped. The Milton Independent reported last month that some team parents have refused to let their kids play over worries about unsafe equipment and poor team management.
Many have asked questions about finances and haven’t received answers.
Finances were again the crux of the issue Monday night. Board chairman Mike Joseph said he needed to see the program’s “carrying cost” and wanted more detail than Wagar provided.
Wagar’s numbers included a planned $4,000 donation from the Broncos to the district’s student activity fund. In a letter to the board, program president Matt King said the funds would help implement the program this fall, though it’s unclear where that money came from since the Broncos finished last season with just over $1,000 in their bank account, statements show.
When the Independent questioned this at a May 31 team meeting, King couldn’t provide details.
King also agreed to donate the existing 5/6 team’s equipment, including helmets and shoulder pads, after the Broncos complete an inventory audit. Wagar said the items are in “good to excellent shape,” but he recommended reconditioning them before use for $1,900.
King told the board equipment should be reconditioned every three years and replaced every 10. Wagar said youth helmets cost about $75, and shoulder pads cost $32. He suggested the youth players could use leftover Milton Yellowjackets uniforms the high school has in storage.
Two coaches would cost about $3,700 each, Wagar said.
The new padded flag teams would likely play eight games in a season that runs from August 30 to mid-October, Wagar said. He suggested the teams practice on Milton High School’s back field, creating an opportunity for mentorship with older students.
“That’s what I think a true town, community-based sports program … should be about: giving back to the youth and creating a culture and good vibes,” Wagar said.
He added that adopting the youth programs would invest in the high school team, which found success last season in its first year under head coach Jim Provost.
Provost attended the parent meeting and said he supports the change.
The arrangement would also institute an academic accountability policy and would be co-ed, Wagar said.
Jamie Crenshaw, assistant to the superintendent and a parent, said many Milton kids play youth soccer but might not be skilled enough to play in high school. Football could be another way to stay active, she said.
“There are kids that need something else,” she said.
Broncos supporter David Butts thinks padded flag is the way to go as parents continue to worry about concussions caused by playing football. He said it will challenge the offensive line to use better technique when blocking.
Dan St. Hilaire, a Broncos parent who is involved in rewriting the team bylaws, said the change would be a chance for Milton to lead the way.
The school board will vote on the matter at its next regular meeting, scheduled for Monday, June 25 at 6 p.m. in the Milton Elementary Middle School library.