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Local school districts close to sports agreement

by Dennis Sharkey

The Oskaloosa USD 341 and the McLouth USD 342 may be close to a cooperative agreement to share two competition sports.

If approved next fall Oskaloosa students could begin competing in cross country with the McLouth team. And next winter McLouth students could be competing in wrestling with the Oskaloosa team.

The Oskaloosa board seems ready to move forward with some minor details to work out. McLouth may make a decision at a special meeting tomorrow (Friday).

Both districts had talks three years ago about an agreement but the conversation died when the McLouth board began discussing hosting their own wrestling program. However, Principal Mike Bogard said those discussions died when heavy budget cuts began occurring three years ago. He said it could cost more than $30,000 to begin a wrestling program along with other logistics that have to be worked out.

McLouth Board Member Ed Courtney said the board had other concerns about traveling three years ago and he still has some of those concerns.

“We were worried about students getting in their cars and driving over there for practice,” Courtney said at McLouth’s regular board meeting last week.”We were not ready to take that kind of liability on.”

Courtney said another sticking point for him is an unbalanced cost between the two schools. He said more kids from McLouth could participate thus costing his district more money than Oskaloosa.

Superintendent Steve Splichal told Courtney there wasn’t really anything unfair about the setup and that it may be the other way around when the numbers shake out.

“By virtue of pure participation that’s what it’s laid out to be,” Splichal said. “It could be the other way around.”

Courtney asked Bogard if students or parents were surveyed. Bogard said they were not because usually the numbers are inflated from what actually occurs. He said based on just asking around he believes 14 to 16 high school students would be interested in wrestling.

Oskaloosa wrestling Head Coach Jared Bammes said at a wrestling meet earlier this season that he was excited about the prospects of McLouth joining the team. Bammes said it would elevate the competition level for the Oskaloosa kids.

“If a kid doesn’t have to fight for his job every day they don’t work as hard,” Bammes said. “That’s huge.”

Oskaloosa Superintendent Jon Pfau believes his school will also see a high participation rate although he has nothing scientific to back that up.

If there are enough students from each school interested each school would then hire their own assistant coach for each sport.

In wrestling only one varsity spot is awarded each week so kids would have to wrestle for a varsity spot.

Each district would be responsible for transporting students to the other school for practice. Students would also meet at the host school for competitions and then travel together.

Students would compete under the name of the host school during regular season competition. During league and post season tournaments the students would participate under their home school’s name.

If the schools come to an agreement they must notify the Kansas State High School Athletic Association by June 1 although both schools would like to make a decision before then for scheduling purposes.

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Posted by on Mar 3 2012. Filed under County News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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