Concerns about the small number of athletes for certain teams have the Palestine Unit 3 school board considering expanding their co-op with Hutsonville.
The board Monday night discussed a meeting recently where administrators and athletic directors of Palestine, Hutsonville, Oblong, Martinsville and another district to be revealed later met to discuss the future of the "new" Little Okaw Valley Conference.
Other than the four mentioned, other districts decided to leave the conference earlier a few months ago.
However, after that meeting Hutsonville and Palestine met about the small number of athletes participating for certain teams, and concerns about the future. High School Principal Tangi Waldrop said there also appeared to be some interest in seeking help from their neighbors from the west, Oblong.
"Hutsonville said, 'If at some point we needed to reach out to be able to hold these teams and continue to offer these sports, how d you feel about asking to extend this co-op?,' Waldrop said.
Oblong and Palestine-Hutsonville high school football joined forces on the gridiron last fall for the first time, and will continue to do so as the Unit #3 approved the co-op at its Monday meeting.
"This meeting (with Hutsonville) was about being proactive, not about reaching out to Oblong," Waldrop said.
Waldrop said that lack of interest in certain sports plus small enrollment can have bad consequences, despite the concern though Hutsonville and Palestine seemed to be interested in continuing as a coop, while the board approved the renewal of the co-op at the meeting.
Grade School Principal Jessica Sisil, who also attended both meetings said that preserving programs would preserve opportunities for the students.
Questions abounded about whether Oblong would consider looking at the co-op if their numbers are sufficient, as well as how the question would come across to Oblong because it is such a difficult subject to discuss.
Board member Joel York said that the lack of success with some programs could be a factor in why numbers are down, but believed the district should explore this option, if Hutsonville continued to show interest.
"The worst thing we could do is nothing," York said. "We're already past the verge in some areas with numbers."
A question was asked about when the new co-op would start if it went through, with some board members thinking 2020-21, with Waldrop saying it would not be fair to opponents if they went quickly.
Superintendent Chris Long agreed that it would have to take time.
"We don't want to rush this. There have to be meetings," Long said.
General consensus among the board showed very few that opposed the proposal and the board decided to keep the option on the table for further exploration.
In other co-op related business Long said the state has demanded that all co-ops align, or sign agreements at the same time.
Waldrop added that, "Everyone is on a two-year agreement, but cycles might be different."
The board also approved IHSA and IESA memberships for the 2019-20 school year. Long said that some financial concerns regarding certain events, resulted in no changes in membership financially.
"There has been a concern about lack of revenue from high school basketball and football finals," Long said.
Several dozen new district policies were read for the first time last night, and are expected to be adopted in April. Board president Corie Biggs said that the policies are usually updates made by the Illinois Association of School Boards.
"The Illinois Association of School Boards adopts and revises policies based on changes and laws from time-to-time," Biggs said.
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Fuel bids were awarded to Wabash Valley FS, who was the only bidder for the 2019-20 school year.
In upcoming events, the district will host National Honor Society inductions on Wednesday, while the scholastic bowl award ceremony and Illinois State Scholars will both be held Mar. 26.
Freshman through junior students will be taking the PSAE, PSAT or SAT exams on Apr. 9. Seniors will be attending Senior Blitz at Lincoln Trail College at that time. Palestine Grade School will also host a spring book fair the week of Apr. 1.
In personnel moves, Keith Bousalog's resignation as band and music teacher was accepted effect at the end of last month. Brett Burkett's resignation as junior high baseball coach was also approved. Joshua Cafin was employed as a substitute custodian for the district.