Article reposted from Stoughton Patch
Stoughton High School students, graduates, and parents expressed their disappointment at Tuesday’s school committee meeting in the decision to not retain the services of Jen Dowd, the high school’s athletic trainer.
The outrage comes following a report from Mark Snyder on his Stoughton News Facebook page that Dowd was being let go in favor of vendor. Speakers during the committee’s comment session had stories about how Dowd helped them, pleading with the committee and Superintendent Marguerite Rizzi to retain Dowd’s services.
Kelly Barrows, a 2014 Stoughton High School graduate, said Dowd was the only one who would listen when her ankle began to act up during track and field season. After Dowd pulled her from competition and sent her to a doctor, an MRI confirmed that she had a bad sprain with torn ligaments.
“I think the only reason why I got through and didn’t quit, I think was because of Jen,” she said.
She also recalled a soccer match when an opponent received a broken leg when the two were going for the ball. She said Dowd was the one who gave the girl medical attention until an ambulance arrived. Later that night at a football game, Dowd went out of her way to tell Barrows what happened to her opponent.
“I think if Jen is no longer working at the school, the students would be physically and emotionally missing out on so much because she has a lot to offer,” she said.
Dr. Kitty O’Hare, a Stoughton resident and pediatrician at Children’s Hospital, said a 2012 study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that schools in Chicago without a full-time athletic trainer had six times more injuries in soccer, four time more in basketball, two times more in other sports when compared to schools without an athletic trainer.
“The orthopedic guidelines that we follow for diagnosing injuries in children and teens are different than they are in adults and you really need an expert to diagnose those injuries,” she said.
David Cellucci, a football and lacrosse player at the high school, said the student-athletes believe not keeping Dowd is the wrong course of action.
“Jen Dowd has built a career around improving the lives of every student in every sport from every town that plays on our fields. Every student has built a trust in Jen, She does not do this job for the money, she does it for us. She treats everyone with respect and positivity. I do not think she can be replaced, She is a necessity for us,” he said.
In her response, Rizzi said the decision was made in October and comes down to the ability to provide more services for less money. While a full-time trainer costs $61,000, the school district can hire an athletic training service, which she said can provide more coverage for $33,000.
“A vendor can provide the most comprehensive service at the most events while costing less money. We can have more athletic training coverage for less money. Rizzi said. “We can’t have more staff without paying more for a freelance trainer. With a vendor, we can staff more events.”
Rizzi said the new trainer will be at Stoughton High School every single day but the replacement of a popular member of the high school looks to be a tough sell. When Rizzi said the community will be happy with the choice if they are willing to give it chance, murmurs of disapproval could be heard in the audience including one voice that yelled “disagree.”
The new school budget goes to town meeting in May for approval.