A lack of field space and poorly conditioned tennis courts are cause for concern in the Palmerton Area School District.

William Congdon, athletic director, made members of the school board's Curriculum, Athletics, Personnel and Policy Committee on Tuesday aware of the situation.

"We do not have sufficient fields to continue all the sports," Congdon said. "My recommendation is either we make improvements, or look at what athletic teams we can support."

Committee member Barry Scherer then suggested the district look to conduct a student survey in grades 8-11 to gauge the level of interest in each sport.

Committee member Susan Debski later recommended that the survey be geared toward students in grades 7-10.

Above all else, Congdon said it's important for the district to have field equity.

"If we were to continue all the sports we have right now, we have overuse of fields," Congdon said. "Really, we're in a significant catch-22."

Congdon said the district could probably get another five to 10 years out of the tennis courts if they were resurfaced.

"The tennis courts are really at a critical situation," Congdon said. "They're really bad."

He said the district recently lost one of five courts due to weathering, and added that it may lose another court.

Congdon said estimates to seal/fill/repaint the courts would be about $6,500. Or, it would cost $23,000 to have them newly resurfaced, he said.

While just 11 students played tennis last year, Congdon said he believes the district could get more use out of the courts.

"We would use the area much more phys. ed facilities-wise," Congdon said. "We can do a survey, but let's determine what we want."

Superintendent Carol Boyce noted that the State Department of Education is considering revisions with regard to physical education requirements.

As part of the revisions, Boyce said PDE will require more physical education throughout the course of the school day, which will be mandatory.

"We run the risk of having it increase our staff and facilities cost," Boyce said. "Right now, with all the other costs, we feel we can't afford it."

Congdon said the indoor facilities need an equal amount of improvements, and specifically signaled out the junior high gymnasium for being in need of improvements.

Scherer said he can possibly foresee the district being faced with a tough decision at some point.

"I think we're going to run into a spot where we're going to have to get rid of some sports because we can't afford them," Scherer said.

In an unrelated matter, Denise Strohl, a longtime secretary at the Palmerton Junior High School, asked the committee to consider the addition of a welcome sign at the main entrance of the building.

Strohl said there has never been a sign to greet visitors since the school was built over 20 years ago.

She said several teachers and students have said they would volunteer their time to remove the red stones, recycle and reuse them, and spread top soil and grass.

"It would be volunteer work, which would mean minimal costs," Strohl said. "We could do patterns on park benches, a retaining wall, picnic park benches."

The committee appeared to be in favor of Strohl's suggestion.