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Parents Seek Gender Equity on Northport's Playing Fields

Ask for the girls softball field to be equal to baseball fields.

After receiving several complaints from parents about the condition of the baseball fields at both the Northport and East Northport middle schools, along with charges that girls were not receiving equitable treatment, Superintendent of Schools Marylou McDermott that she inspected the fields on May 2. She was accompanied by District Athletic Director Drew Cronin and District Superintendent of Buildings and Grounds Anthony Resca

Since then, the fields have been groomed, new clay has been spread, and new bleachers have been ordered for first and third baselines, she said. New banners with the names of each of the teams who play there are also planned.

In response to complaints that the playing conditions were deplorable, Cronin conceded, “I will say that it was less than ideal.” However, with regard to players getting hurt because of those conditions, he added, “I would say not.”

Trustee Donna McNaughton asked if the district was doing everything that needed to be done to keep the fields playable. “Do we have everything we need?"McNaughton asked.

Resca gave several answers, including a need to rest the fields during growing seasons – something which he said is hard to do given the busy athletic spring season, but “we’re trying our best.” He did add, “I think the two middle school fields need work.”

”Somebody has to speak up for the girls.” That’s how Ralph Ranieri, a father of four daughters, put it. The 17-year resident said that the girls' fields have been in bad shape for as long as he’s lived in the district. He spoke of bases that slide, glass and rocks on the field, and the fact that girls share uniforms with another team. “What are we telling these girls?” he asked, to much applause.

Cronin said there was no money earmarked in the budget for capital improvements for next year. Board President Steve Waldenburg said that maintenance can go a long way toward keeping the fields playable.

Steve Navas, vice president of , asked if there was a process for parental involvement regarding the budgetary process for next year.

Citing safety issues, McDermott said, “I think we’re very conscious of the equity issue. It’s the district’s responsibility, not the parents.”

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