Re: FCAT dilemma -- your opinion?
wow, I remember going through this when i was in high school.
Here is the course of action i would recommend taking.
1. As someone mentioned earlier, get it touch with other clubs/organizations that have issues with the blackout period. (who's events are educational). and see what you guys can do together. FIRST is part cooperation, so do just that.
2. Look into double standards for this procedure. cite other FIRST teams in the county (of course with their permission, we don't want it so that all the FIRST teams end up being affected by the blackout). I would specifically look into recruiting trips for senior athletes. If the school is so stern on it's policy that i does not allow seniors to travel outside the county, then those trips would be null and void.
3. Take the combined two points above to the school board and present your issue. Explain to them that your willing to work out some compromise (Seniors travel Thursday, other students travel Thurs. evening or Friday...etc.) Present the option that you can go out of state for another regional during a different week. The school board might consider that compromise and provide the difference in money for this to happen. If this doesn't work, move on to step four.
4. Use the two points above and combine them to create publicity. Get the team to make a press release, get on local news, write in the local newspaper (write in the school newspaper to get bonus points among your peers). This act should show the school that your willing to play hardball to get what you want.
5. Go to the school board and see if anything has changed. If it hasn't, wash rinse and repeat.
as for other programs, there is BEST, Battlebots and VEX, those are the ones i can think of for now.