There's one item in the Board of Education's proposed 2012-13 budget that was one reason new board member Bryan Johnson voted against his first budget proposal.
It's line item 811 -- Ice Rink Rental Fees -- $75,000.
That's the money that pays for ice time for the Hamden High School boy's and girl's hockey teams for practices and games. Since the town privatized the Louis Asterino Rink in 2010, the board became responsible for paying for ice time for the student-athletes that number a total of about 70.
"The ice rink was a portion of why I voted against the budget," Johnson said. "I understand the hockey focus in town, but it seems silly to me to give that much money to one extracurricular activity. I do not think we should get rid of hockey, but there needs to be a better way to fund it.
"Right now I don't know what the answer is, but I am going to try and find something so that students in other extracurricular activities do not feel as if they are receiving less attention (for lack of a better word) from the district," he said.
It's not a good idea to try to transfer responsibility for the payment to the town, since it was the one that made the decision to privatize the rink, board member Jim Pascarella said.
"If we have the town fund the hockey program, then who controls the hockey program?" he said. "While there are issues that need to be examined, it is the most successful we have had for the last 60 years.
"The town has put the hockey program on a pedestal -- 'Thou shalt not upset this,'' he said.
"It's a complicated issue and I'm starting to come around more to what Jim is saying," board president Michael D'Agostino said. The Legislative Council could decide to set aside $100,000 or $150,000 for rink time, he said, but then subtract that amount from the bottom line of the school budget.
"I'm coming around to that we should just fund it," D'Agostino said.
Johnson said he too agrees with Pascarella.
"I agree with Mr. Pascarella that the hockey team is a BOE responsibility. not a town responsibility, so we as a Board need to figure out a better way," Johnson said.
The cost for the rink time used to be about $30,000 more, which allowed it to be used in the school's physical education program. That was cut to save money, D"Agostino said, but he wouldn't support cutting the hockey program.
"We have a big sports culture here in Hamden -- we think it's an important part of the experience we give students."