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‘Fair Play’ sports bill would help schools and homeschoolers

To the editor:

We are writing to express our support for the “Fair Play” sports bill (A.706 and S.5472) that will allow homeschooled students to participate in interscholastic sports in New York state at the discretion of their school district.

We are a homeschooling family in the Saranac Lake Central School District and are proud supporters of our Saranac Lake Red Storm athletes. We are pleased to be taxpayers and involved members of the community who support the children of the school district. 

Though we homeschool, we are like other families in New York state: We pay our annual school taxes, we participate in events at the local schools in our area, and our children’s education is under the supervision of the school district.

It seems fair that all the children under the purview of school districts throughout the state should have access to the same services.

As longtime volunteer coaches for the Dewey Mountain Youth Ski League and the Saranac Lake Youth Soccer Association, we love to see the kids we coach grow up to play for the Red Storm at the modified, junior varsity and varsity levels. 

But our own children do not have the chance to advance with their public school friends to the level of interscholastic competition because they are homeschooled.

This is a shortcoming in state law that reduces access to physical fitness opportunities for homeschooled students all over New York. 

In our opinion, it is also a problem for small, rural school districts throughout the North Country and the state.

We believe the passage of the “Fair Play” bill would benefit small, rural school districts because, due to declining enrollment, some sports teams have had to combine with neighboring districts, or teams have had to adapt to having lower numbers. Of additional benefit, parents of homeschooled students in our local districts would be helpful boosters for teams.

Thirty-eight states have laws or regulations supporting homeschooler participation in public school sports, and many of the remaining states are working to pass such legislation. We hope New York state will get there in 2019. 

Sincerely,

Sunita and Steve Halasz

Saranac Lake

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