By Christy Jankowski
Every two years Bement and Cerro Gordo Schools renew their intergovernmental cooperative sports agreement. For the past two years both districts have met as a committee to discuss the agreements.
Bement stated that Cerro Gordo asked for their proposal and they would review it. Bement’s proposal is a 50/50 agreement.
Bement is asking that for Football, games alternate with the 5th home game alternating between districts each year and play-offs to be played the same. For Track, they state all outdoor practices at Cerro Gordo with indoor at Bement. All home-track meets at Cerro Gordo. The board acknowledged they have the facilities with the all weather track. Every other sport currently co-oped is to remain the same.
Now, for Cross Country. The districts have discussed possibly forming a cross country team together. Bement is proposing to have one with Bement High School hosting all home events and practices.
Assistant Principal and athletic director Steve Cline stated Cerro Gordo has an interest in forming a cooperative agreement for softball and baseball as well.
As for financials, the district proposed a 50 percent split. “All conference and county tournament home games count toward the total number of home games at each school. Cerro Gordo and Bement administration will be responsible for hiring all coaches, collaboratively.” They added, “Bement is open to discussions on establishing cooperative agreements in middle school sports in the future.”
The board also discussed that with numbers of enrollment and those playing, the district has to have a co-op to play. They also have noticed their numbers are so low with football, that it is probable they will only have a Varsity team. Cline stated, “Right now even with our co-op we are the smallest school in numbers.” Greenwood added. “and we both have declining enrollment.”
Bement noted that their students have an interest in soccer and wrestling. They discussed if they did offer it to co-op with a school that offers the sport currently. Steve Cline stated, “However, with the cost of wrestling, bringing mats,, and storing. My opinion if we decide to do this not something we ask Cerro Gordo to be a co-op with…because I do not think it financially makes sense. A school that already has wrestling, find a school that wants to take us. Same thing for soccer.”
As for the proposal Cline stated nothing is set in stone, “If they want to come back with some things gives them a chance to say okay how about this or we will entertain and be willing to hear what they come back with.”
With COVID cases surging throughout Illinois, middle school and high school sports are back to the unknown area. The IHSA went against the Governor’s initial call to basketball being high risk. Many rejoiced from this decision, but it was short lived. The IHSA invited Governor Pritzger, IDPH, and ISBE to a meeting this Thursday to discuss the future.
Many schools have opted out of playing basketball as scheduled, Bement being one of those. They stated no practices until the government agencies meet to come to a more formal decision. Superintendent Sheila Greenwood is wary. “Basically, I think, and the research we have been forced to do with the IHSA laying it in your laps is that if we would have any issues, if we go against IDPH recommendation, ISBE’s recommendation, and the Governor’s recommendation, we would lose in the court of law. Because we are not following IDPH guidelines.”
Jeff Funk added, “Whatever you think about the Governor, or anyone else, as of. It is pretty clear that all insurance companies are saying if you ignore IDPH and ISBE, you are sued. If someone gets sick there is no insurance coverage. Ordinarily the TORT immunity act schools are excused from schools being sued from ordinary things..ignoring guidance that may be willful negligence…The IHSA has put us in a very difficult situation. I am absolutely not in favor of basketball as well.”
Other schools have signed a letter sent to the Governor about the situation. Greenwood did not sign it, stating, “ I did get that letter, I did not sign that letter. That was a very highly politically charged letter. As far as a little bit of how it was worderd, a little bit of the signatures and things like that. I just don’t think you can play politics with kids.”
Cerro Gordo was contacted about practices and the proposal, with no response.