We made an attempt at understanding the need for sports co-ops in some high schools in last week's column. The diminishing numbers of students and the loss of population in our smaller communities have made it necessary for towns to get together and discuss mergers or co-ops.
Just a few of the questions people from both communities would ask are:
Who pays for travel to and from practices? How will insurance coverage be obtained? How will gate receipts be divided? Where will home games be played.
Are the training rules for both schools comparable? Are academic standards the same? How is coaching staff hired and who pays them? Who pays referees?
These are just a few of the questions likely to be addressed at merger/co-op meetings. There are many more not listed here but are on the application for co-op form put out by the MHSA.
But now, moving on to the second most important (or so it seems to this writer) issue in a merger or co-op. The academic side of the program.
Let's just say that School A has a better science teacher than School B. Can that teacher then travel to School B to teach? Or let's say School B has a better world history teacher than school A. Can that history teacher travel to school A and teach?
I think this is a workable plan but needs to get the attention of someone far smarter that I to put it all together. It would most likely take until the beginning of next year's school session (2014) to iron out everything and reach an amicable agreement.
It will take a panel from both schools meeting at least twice a week. The school board from both schools would, necessarily, be involved as well as a couple parents from each town.
There would have to be a third party arbitrator (umpire) at every meeting.
There would have to be an attorney at every meeting.
Someone should be delegated to visit some of the other schools that have successfully co-oped or merged to see how they fared. What were the major stumbling blocks and how were they overcome? How is the best way to deal with state issues, rules and regulations?
Folks are afraid of losing their school because in most of these smaller communities the school is the major employer and if the school goes so does the community.
If two communities go into this thing with true dedication and with the best interests of the school children and young adults in mind, that's what it would take. It has been done elsewhere and could be done again here.
To use a trite “ism” of some sort, “it's a win- win situation.” Schools stay open and there is just one sports program.
That's it for now folks. Thanks for listening.