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WESTMINSTER — Bellows Falls Union High School Principal John Broadley wants to add a fulltime athletic trainer to the high school staff.

Broadley made the proposal Monday evening first to the BFUHS budget committee and then later to the full board. He said the athletic trainer could help the athletes at the 316-student high school both avoid injuries and recover more easily from injuries.

He said the trainer would be paid the same as a first-year teacher, and he hopes to hire a recent graduate from Keene State College in nearby Keene, N.H.

Broadley’s suggestion came as the BFUHS board is just beginning its budget work. He said that two upcoming vacancies at the high school were not going to be filled: one of the school’s two foreign language teachers and one of the school’s guidance counselors.

While Broadley’s suggestion for an athletic trainer won praise from Board Chairwoman Molly Banik and member Jason Terry of Rockingham, two other directors, Margo Ghia and Deborah Wright, both of Rockingham, raised questions about the school’s priorities.

Ghia and Wright both said they were concerned about not filling the two other largely academic positions, and Wright asked why other staff, such as coaches and physical education and health teachers, couldn’t fill the role of athletic trainer.

Ghia said she would support adding an athletic trainer, but she called it “curious” that the other two positions were not being filled. She said she was concerned about the additional work load on the other guidance counselors, and she noted that two years study of a foreign language is a requirement for admission to most colleges.

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Terry, whose son is very active in sports at the high school, was the biggest booster of the trainer suggestion. He said a strength and conditioning trainer “could save us money” from medical bills. Banik joked that Cheshire Medical Center in Keene, N.H., “could get rid of” some staff if the school had an athletic trainer.

She said she had supported such an addition to the staff for a number of years.

If kids “do the right stretches” they might not get hurt, she said.

Terry said that with 64 state championship banners in the high school gym, it was clear “we are good at athletics” and a trainer to support that would be good. “It’s not a lot of money, it’s worth it,” he said.

Broadley had heavily praised the recent championship football team earlier in the meeting, saying “the charisma of these guys, I can’t say enough. It’s just amazing.” He said their leadership carries into the school from the playing field.

Assistant Principal Sean Murphy said an athletic trainer could help prevent concussions, or diagnose them more quickly.

If Bellows Falls Union High School does agree to add an athletic trainer to its staff, it will be joining Brattleboro Union High School, which has had that position for about a decade.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com.