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GROTON — Come wintertime, students at Groton-Dunstable Regional High School will have a pair of new sports programs to keep them trim while the snow flies.

At a meeting of the School Committee, members acceded to a request by the district’s athletic director, Michael McCaffrey, to create indoor track and field and gymnastics programs by voting in favor of the effort.

According to McCaffrey, the indoor track and field program is needed to “bridge” the gap between the fall and spring programs, when students can exercise outdoors.

As a member of the Midland-Wachusett League, McCaffrey said Groton-Dunstable is the only school that does not offer indoor track during the winter months from Dec. 1 to March 1.

The athletic director said 50-60 students are expected to take part in the indoor track program that would cost his department $18,712. The money would be needed to pay for uniforms, transportation to competitions, coaches and fees.

Also on McCaffrey’s wish list was a totally new gymnastics program which would make Groton-Dunstable only the fourth district to offer it.

McCaffrey said 24 female students have already expressed interest in such a program, one that would cost his department $8,042 for coaching, fees and the cost of renting space at Planet Gymnastics in Acton, where students would practice.

Of the high school’s 870-member student body, several hundred participate in 40 sports teams and programs, with many of that number participating in more than one program.

“Here at Groton-Dunstable, we have a tremendous athletic culture,” insisted McCaffrey, concluding his presentation.

Despite McCaffrey’s statement, however, no boys have so far approached him about signing up for the gymnastics program even though it will be open to them as well.

While School Committee members were supportive of the new programs, member John Giger sounded a note of caution when he reminded McCaffrey of his department’s overspending the year before to the tune of $50,000.

“I want to be very clear,” said Giger, a member of the budget and finance sub-committee, “we are not going to have an overspent department.”

Giger cautioned McCaffrey that if the programs are approved he would need to find the money for them within his existing budget.

“That’s fully understood,” replied McCaffrey.

With that, the School Committee voted to approve the new programs contingent on funding to be taken from the athletic department’s existing budget.

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