Suffolk gives Wyandanch schools $150,000 grant to save sports

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The Wyandanch School District may have found a way to keep its athletic programs running for the upcoming school year.

Wyandanch officials initially said they only had $50,000 and needed to raise an extra $300,000 to pay for after-school sports.

However, Suffolk officials announced Thursday that the district would receive a $150,000 grant to cover half of that cost. Another $10,000 was pledged by West Islip philanthropist Steve Castleton.

"If there are financial problems in the district, the ones who shouldn't suffer are the kids," says Castleton.

The financial shortfall is happening because the district's budget for the coming school year was voted down. The school district also laid off teachers and consolidated bus routes.

Castleton's donation will not help to fix the layoffs and bus route issues.

Despite the grant and donation, district officials say money is still needed.

"We are on the road," says Wyandanch High School Principal Paul Sibblies. "We're on the right track to bringing sports back to Wyandanch."

The grant money is coming from state funds, which Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone says will not take funding away from anti-gang initiatives.

"No, this funding is exactly for this kind of program," says Bellone. "I can't think of a more important anti-gang initiative than keeping kids in high school, in sports."

District officials say the funding will carry their sports programs through the fall and into the winter, but more help is needed for the spring.



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