Sports Co-op discussions remain tense, committee to meet again

Every two years, Cerro Gordo and Bement renew their Intergovernmental Sports Cooperative Agreement which began back in 2013. The current agreement was negotiated in 2019 and any changes will not take effect until the 2021-2022 school year.

During Bement’s meeting on January 13, the district sent a proposal they thought Cerro Gordo would possibly approve. Cerro Gordo’s Principal Jeremey Rodebaugh shut that down even before the Cerro Gordo board meeting took place, but the board agreed with Rodebaugh. As to why, “I knew where the board would be and that was my immediate response, and they took a position,” he stated.

Rodebaugh said of the proposal Bement sent in November, “Throughout this process they were keeping us informed and what I thought was a very fair agreement and beyond, wasn’t received so well over there….I think at this point what makes the most sense from a board standpoint is to get together.”

Todd Henricks reminded the board they need the coop to compete, “The future is what it is and we need to negotiate a compromise agreement and maintain this because none of us can stand on our own.” Adding, “Otherwise neither school will compete…I know we are frustrated with this right now, a lot of people are, but we need to keep working.”

Cerro Gordo board member and treasurer Debbie Greenwood stated, “I think for everyone involved officially to see the facts. The time that this happened, what has been proposed, and what each school gains and losses. That way there is a clear picture of what is truly out there, not stuff that has been said or not said in papers which is disappointing.” Adding, “It has come to that in my opinion. We are doing all of this back-and-forth banter in the newspapers. I understand there are a lot of hurt feelings behind the scenes, but again it is all about trying to make what is best for the kids. That is what ultimately matters.”

Rodebaugh stated that after November’s meeting, “We had a proposal, it was Cerro Gordo’s fourth proposal that Bement’s administration felt confident enough to take their board. The Bement board in December rejected that proposal. At that time then at the January board meeting Bement came back to us with a 50/50 proposal of not only games and practices that we had already rejected, but also a 50/50 proposal of both schools, so it was a regressive proposal in my view.”

Greenwood added, “One of the reasons we truly cannot do 50/50 correct is because of logistics, because of facility space?” To which Rodebaugh responded with, “I believe it would be very difficult for Bement’s one regulation gym to hold 7-12 games and practices. That is my personal opinion. Even if it can be done, we have three regulation size gyms, so why should that happen for the kids?”

Greenwood stated through the discussion, “I think at some point it becomes a matter of bargaining and bait, at some point the back-and-forth has to stop. It has to come to some form of agreement, and I understand both sides are firm, but there has to be a middle ground and some of the things that have happened don’t seem to make sense to me on the surface and I think a lot of us are struggling with that.”

Rodebaugh added, “It is clear from this board standpoint we want CGB and we have also been clear on what we are willing to give or not, so if there is more we are willing to give or negotiate I need to know what that is.” Rodebaugh added, “Bement has very valid arguments what they would give us and we have valid arguments to contradict…so both sides have very valid points.”

The board was frustrated with Bement’s proposal. Henricks stated about the proposal, “If we could have that not be an ultimatum and negotiate between that and with what was in the November proposal with Mr. Kepley and Mr. Cline, I think we can work something out.”

When asked what happens if the two districts can’t reach a new agreement Rodebaugh said, “I would start by saying that I have the complete faith and confidence that an agreement will be reached as it is the best for the student athletes of Cerro Gordo and Bement that we continue to work together.” He went on to say, “That being said, if an agreement is not reached, Cerro Gordo has the facilities, resources, and students to continue moving forward with our full slate of IHSA and IESA activities. In addition, our activities would remain available to

Bement Student Athletes if desirable or beneficial to the Bement School District.”

There was some discussion on proposing the district keep the current one third Bement, and two third Cerro Gordo split. Greenwood added, “This is too much time, effort and energy on sports. On a timeframe we need to be focusing on education more so now than any other and it has become a distraction from that.”

Two Board Members from each school district along with the building principals and athletic directors will be meeting in the near future with the date and time still to be determined.

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