Bement School Board Meets Virtually, Discusses Possible Co-op Changes

By CHRISTY JANKOWSKI
Staff Writer

On December 8, 2020 the Bement School Board met with most members connecting via zoom, with only a few present throughout the school building. As with 2020, members had to move in order to get a good connection.

Last month Bement sent a proposal to Cerro Gordo regarding the intergovernmental cooperative sports agreement. The proposal was basically to split all current CGB sports to a fifty fifty agreement versus the one third for Bement, and two thirds for Cerro Gordo. The contract is up in the spring.

Bement Principals Doug Kepley and Steve Cline met with Cerro Gordo, and Cerro Gordo came back with a new proposal. The board discussed the proposal, but we in a consensus that it needs changes.

Cerro Gordo proposed that each school have certain sports they host, and the host school is responsible for all practices, games with the exception of one or a few depending on sport, and responsible for all finances with the exception of some transportation.

Kepley began with, “In the proposal we are working with right now, and I am going by sport

They would be the host for football, that means they would schedule the games, hire the officials, they would have all of the practices at Cerro Gordo. They would be responsible for all of the finances for football. Now in certain sports maybe we have something different to make better for both schools, so when I say host those are the basic guidelines. They are the host with IHSA, in charge of all finances, and practices there. What we are currently working with and negotiating is game wise.”

Kepley went through each sport. Cerro Gordo would be the host school for the majority of high school sports: Football, Volleyball, Boys and Girls basketball, Cheerleading, and Track. For each sport there are various tournaments they are looking at having Bement host, if for instance Cerro Gordo is the host school. For example with Volleyball, Kepley stated, “When we started working on it if we had a tournament we would like two to three home games, they are coming back with one. If no tournament.”

For boys and girls basketball Cerro Gordo proposed Bement continue hosting their Mike Walsh Memorial Tournament, and they proposed three home games while Bement process four. Cheerleading coincides with Boys basketball.

For Track, both districts agreed for Cerro Gordo to be the host school considering their new all weather track and facilities.

As for what high school sports Bement would host according to Cerro Gordo’s proposal from Kepley, those would be the following: Girls and Boys Cross Country, and Baseball and Softball.

Board Member Janice Forgeson asked Kepley, “Doug, I have a question. So for all the sports we are hosting, we don’t collect money for….So that is a concern of mine. Can you remind me how we do that now?” Kepley replied, “When you host a game, you collect the revenue, and you pay the officials. So in those four sports, you are right Janice there would be no revenue coming in. So that’s what looking back on that CG would host, and seeing how many games we could get…That money that comes in from our gate would be ours we would also be paying officials

Having it here gives us a chance to have concession stands, have the chance to get those games here again in Bement.”

Collectively, the board seemed in consensus in not agreeing wtih Cerro Gordo’s latest proposal. Board Member Trixie Stoeger-Flavin stated, “We are giving up the big draw kinda sports there…I mean girls basketball, boys basketball, volleyball, football. Like we are not gaining anything on that.” She added later, “I think we need more time to be able to compile our thoughts and feelings on this. We can’t do this tonight.”

Board member Janice Forgeson stated as well, “I will tell you I don’t like it, I would be a way for us to get more home games to get more money, to get concession stands.” She added later, “We have a beautiful new gym, a gorgeous new gym with awesome bleachers, that are the best bleachers, the safest…we need to be having more games in our gym.”

For Middle School Sports, Cerro Gordo proposed Bement being the host school, and allowing the uniforms to be CGB Bulldogs with the purple and white (for some sports). Kepley stated, “For us in middle school we would host boys basketball, girls basketball, and cheerleading.

We would host junior high boys and girls cross country. And, in the activity survey we did ….we have enough interest to start junior high baseball and softball.”

Trixie added, “I think in that next proposal we should have known about them not doing the fifty-fity before it got this far, I think it already has gotten further than we knew about it.” The majority of the board nodded their heads on their zoom screens in agreement.

Board Member Jeff Funk added, “Frankly it doesn’t seem to me what Cerro Gordo has wanted for years which is to have all of the high school sports and we have all of the middle school sports with a couple of exceptions, and they have been trying that for years and we have always said no.” And Trixie added, “We had good reasons for saying no, it was about student safety and supervision, and all that. We had good reasons for saying no to that to begin with, and now here we are doing a proposal with it.”

The Board President Todd Scott agreed, “Mr. Cline and Doug, I appreciate you doing the negotiation, but I kinda have to agree with Trixie and Janice. I feel like the only thing we have gained here is purple, and just a little bit of purple. And please don’t take offense to that…”

Trixie added, “If we can make high school more towards fifty-fifty, then we can possibly talk about junior high, and now instead we are doing the whole thing as a package deal close to fifty fifty, but it is going to induced the junior high stuff in.That was something I was not interested in, I’ll be honest with you.”

The board agreed to discuss and email thoughts back and forth. Cerro Gordo was reached for comment and told that High School and Junior High Principal Jeremy Rodebaugh will have a statement about the continuation of negotiations and cooperative sports proposals at their meeting this week, December 16, starting at 6:30pm in the Cerro Gordo Auditorium.

As for other sports, Bement states High School Scholastic Bowl is planning to continue, merely virtually using the application Discord. Like how the meeting for Bement started, Kepley added, “Those first few meets are going to be rough, just like tonight we had everything set and ready to go…” As the board had to move members throughout the school so each could be heard and not sound as if underwater.

Superintendent Report and Other Information

Superintendent Shelia Greenwood reports that because of frequent changes and varying advice from the local health department, COVID has made some days nightmares. “It has been a very interesting time to be a Superintendent with the ever changing landscape involving COVID and all that goes with it. It is not an exaggeration to say that some days that is all that we deal with to be quite honest. Today was one of those days where all except for maybe one hour of my day was spent on COVID and changes in the guidelines for close contacts and things like that. It has just been crazy.”

Greenwood went on to add, “It has been a nightmare. I probably have 50 emails back and forth to get things figured out, because the CDC believes one thing. The IDPH believes something different right now and our local health department is very disorganized with the communication within the organization. The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is saying. We received an email from David Remmart to all Superintendents in the county health department area telling us we are going to go with shortened quarantined periods. There are some other options beyond the 14 day. He also thought his health department had been doing all the contact tracing and taking care of all the phone calls and everything, and they haven’t done any of it at all. He really didn’t know his department had been inept through part of this, so he gave information out to the Superintendents.” She added that when one person calls and another calls at times they are both given completely different information.

Forgeson added, “And how do you know how to lead when you are getting different information from everybody? I am so sorry.”

“It comes down to you have to go by what your local health department says but keep in mind there were two sides of that after school even, so it has been hard and just trying to right thing with kids and students and everything else, and communicate with all of our parents making sure they kinda know what is going on.” replied Greenwood.

Greenwood added there is a good side, “We have been extremely fortunate in our number of COVID cases and as of this date, we haven’t had any transmissions here at school. Any of the positives have come from outside the school and some close contacts from outside the school.We have had some close contacts inside due to that, but we have been very fortunate and that has been what has enabled us to stay in session and stay in person, where now…after the month or so we are the only school in the county that’s been able to stay open.”

As far as changes as of today the CDC is recommended shortedning quarantine time in certain situations from the 14 days to 7-10, meanwhile the IDPH is extremely against that option.

Greenwood also reported they will be staying open in person and as of now will have a majority of their students returning from remote learning. They started off with 63 students and there will now be only 20 students. They will not be charging parents the second semester for the Educare fee which is the program they went with for e-learning.

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