Cerro Gordo formalizes co-op agreement

The expanded sports and activities cooperative between Bement and Cerro Gordo schools were unanimously approved by the Cerro Gordo school board on March 17.

“We are very excited to not only renew our existing cooperative sports agreements with Bement, but also expand to include all Jr/Sr High School IESA and IHSA sports,” Cerro Gordo Junior High/High School Principal Jeremy Rodebaugh said.

The Bement school board approved the two-year cooperative contract back on March 10.

Principal Rodebaugh added, “All agreements have been officially approved by both boards of education as well as the Junior High Okaw Conference and the Lincoln Prairie Conference. At this point Mr. Kepley and I are finalizing all of the paperwork to be submitted to the IESA and IHSA for final approval for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years.”

The new version of the nine-year-old co-op now adds middle school offerings. Starting this fall, the two schools will combine all IESA and IHSA sports and activities with the with the except of scholastic bowl.

The responsibility and costs will also be split between the schools. The new agreement has Cerro Gordo in charge of administration and all costs for the high school activities and Bement will be in charge of middle/junior high school offerings.

Both schools will still work together, allowing Bement to do the legwork on the junior high side and Cerro Gordo can do the legwork for the high school side, lessening the workload for both schools.

The school in charge will still host two-thirds of the home games. One exception is track, where all middle and high school meets will be held at Cerro Gordo’s all-weather track. The other is high school cross country, which Bement will host and be the site of two-thirds of those meets.

High school athletes will be the Broncos and wear the Cerro Gordo colors of navy blue and orange. Middle school participants will be the Bulldogs with Bement’s purple and white.

If approved by the middle school Okaw and high school Lincoln Prairie Conferences, as well as the state athletic organizations, the new contract will add two sports to include middle/junior high school baseball and softball.

The Cerro Gordo board for several years now has been to extend the cooperative into the junior high, so we’re excited to expand our partnership with Bement.”

Bement graduation May 28, format still uncertain

Bement High School graduation will be held Friday, May 28, but the format of the ceremony is yet to be determined in the weeks to come. The administration is considering options that range from last year’s limited indoor version to an outdoor event and giving a certain number of tickets to each student.

The outside option on the football field has become more attractive due to an easing of outdoor gathering restrictions, enabling more people to attend but weather will play a big factor. A sound system would be needed, and the weather will impact that requirement.

One aspect implemented last year that will be repeated again this year is the post-commencement parade of graduates through town as the community enjoyed it immensely.

No matter which option is finally decided upon, a streamlined version of graduation that was implemented last year will likely be repeated for 2021. Prior to 2020, several scholarships were awarded at the commencement ceremony, presented by people from outside the school district handing them out that evening. This year, scholarships that are announced at graduation will be given out by school personnel, same as last year.

Input from the student body will be obtained before making a final decision on the format for graduation.

The possibility of replacing the middle school promotion ceremony scheduled for May 27 was also discussed. Instead of a formal entry march in cap and gowns, maybe ordering matching t-shirts, making it a more relaxed evening that would still honor the school’s eighth graders with some type of certificate along with department awards and recognizing the activities they have participated in.

COVID-19 Update

Superintendent Sheila Greenwood thanked her staff, students and the Bement school community for their help during a challenging school year due to COVID-19. The district has been in-person all year with no COVID-necessary breaks.

Precautions taken this year have included a quarantine room for students who develop a symptom and are waiting to be picked up, special equipment purchases for deep cleaning, plenty of personal protection equipment for staff, good communication from the school nurse regarding ever-changing state guidelines, and school personnel taking on much of the contact tracing duties.

In other COVID-related news, Greenwood told the board the school has spent most of the $46,000 it has received from the

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, with the possibility of receiving another $163,000 in the next round of federal ESSER distribution.

Broadcasting school athletic contests on the NFHS Network has been another COVID-19 adjustment and has worked out well for the district. Families and friends of the student athletes have been able to watch them play for a monthly fee of $10.99.

Boiler replacement

The board voted to hire Prather Architects for its boiler replacement project, which is scheduled to take place this summer. Greenwood said the replacement system will cost about $40,000, much less than anticipated, and that most of the expense will be covered through grants and other reimbursements.

It was noted that asbestos will need to be removed from the boiler room as part of the project, but the cost of that aspect is unknown at this time.

The boiler runs the entire heating for the elementary, middle school and high school buildings, all of which are connected. There are 183 steam traps as part of the system according to a survey.

In other action the board was informed:

•A new state-mandated transitional math class will be offered next school year at the high school. The goal is to eliminate the need for college-bound seniors to enroll in non-credit remedial math when they pursue a degree

•Some high school art classes will also be added if enough students enroll in them

•Accepted the resignations of Andrew Brown as high school business teacher, middle school and high school cross country coach, middle school boys’ basketball coach, middle school boys track coach and webmaster at the end of the 2020-21 school year; and Bob Knowles, afternoon/evening custodian

•Hired the following: Alan Duesterhaus, high school business teacher, technology director and webmaster; Herb Wittig, evening custodian; Loretta Lincicum, part-time afternoon/evening custodian; Brad Herrmann, CGB assistant baseball coach; and Amy Davenport, middle school girls’ assistant basketball coach;

•Approved a two-year contract extension for Kepley, which now runs through the 2022-23 school year

•Sisters Cassie and Gabby Block finished third and fifth, respectively, at the 20-person Piatt County Spelling Bee on Feb. 17

•The high school spring play, “Bement Follies,” will be a video version that will feature talent entries from students and staff

Superintendent Greenwood announced a $12,500 state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity grant approved a year ago has not been received by the district, but Greenwood hopes it arrives soon. Those funds have been earmarked for more secure doors for a school office and a Chromebook charging cart

Homecoming week will be April 6-9. There will be no dance, but there will be theme days, a Friday afternoon parade and introduction of the homecoming court at the football game that evening.

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