Concerned about the district’s current financial situation, West Newbury’s Jill Eichhorst agreed and proposed adding it to the budget discussions for next year.
“If we are paying for the boys, I don’t see why we can’t pay for the girls to play,” argued Merrimac’s Brian Page. He suggested having the girls absorb half the cost, similar to what the boys do. Male hockey players pay $850 to be part of Pentucket’s team with the district kicking in part of the cost for ice time.
His colleague Wayne Adams stressed that hockey is the most expensive sport, but none of the athletic fees charged to students completely cover the cost for any high school sport at Pentucket.
“I think this is an opportunity that has been dropped in our lap,” said Chris Reading of West Newbury. Noting that women’s ice hockey was growing in popularity at the college level across the country, she urged fellow committee members to take a broader view of what participation in this sport might mean for Pentucket students — beyond just experiencing a team sport.
“There’s a lot of money in college scholarships for girls who play ice hockey,” she said.
For Reading it was also an issue of parity.
With a budget the size of Pentucket’s, “I think we can find a little piece of the pie for our female athletes.” She wondered if the district could partner with the non-profit Pentucket Athletic Association to find a way to cover the costs.
Referring to Mulqueen’s stated vision to create a “world class” district, Reading called the proposal “a world class opportunity.”
But Mulqueen responded that “world class” also means considering how best to allocate district resources. “I just don’t have an additional $16,000 to put toward it,” he said.