CGB cooperative may be expanded

By Christy Jankowski
Journal-Republcan correspondent

Currently Cerro Gordo and Bement share a sports cooperative agreement to combine forces for several high school sports. Both boards met in a joint session Oct. 29 to discuss the possibility of expanding that agreement to include high school volleyball and cross country, as well as all middle school sports.

When both districts decided to form a sports co-op they started with football, cheerleading, girl’s basketball, baseball, softball, and boys and girls track. A year later poms and boy’s basketball were added.

For now, volleyball is separate and Bement also has a cross country team while Cerro Gordo does not. Each district also fields its own middle school sports teams.

At the joint session, Bement brought forth a proposal for Cerro Gordo to keep the high school sports with Cerro Gordo as the host school and a two-thirds and one-third split in the hosting of games. They are proposing for the middle school sports to be hosted by Bement with the same two-thirds and one-third split being flipped with the middle school using the Bement Bulldog as its mascot.

Both boards met earlier last year about the co-op, but those discussions dwindled due to some misinterpretations and miscommunications. Since then parents, coaches, and students have expressed their interests in reopening the discussion, especially in the area of volleyball.

Tom Mann spoke to both boards as a public participant, stating his desire to co-op all sports.

“I think all sports combined, I think it makes sense for volleyball to all come together and for middle school I’m all for that as well.” Mann is a Bement graduate, Cerro Gordo coach, volunteer, parent, and the husband of Dawn Mann, the current Cerro Gordo volleyball coach. Mann went on to add he believes the strife has much more to do with the adults than the students.

“My daughter is a sophomore and hangs out with the kids in Bement all the time and she gets along with them.”

There were some minor disagreements about the split itself, and discussion about opening up to the idea of consolidating both districts eventually.

Bement is open to the idea of having all track practices and events at Cerro Gordo and having cross country at Bement. Bement School Superintendent Sheila Greenwood stated, “one thing too that has been discussed with you guys having a new track, it’s a beautiful facility. I don’t know why we wouldn’t want to practice here on this track rather on our cinder track.

“That was a thought too with all track practices here and all cross country at our place,” she added.

Everyone seemed open to the idea of adding volleyball, and happy to be finally discussing everything. “I just want to say I am really glad we are having this meeting. We had one last year and I felt like that went really well, and there was some confusion on where we went after that. I think this is a good thing for us to all get together again and work together again and iron some things out,” said Bement board member Denise Strack.

She went on to add as far as discussing how coaching would work, if middle school were to be combined, “you know we are a puzzle, we need to put it together.” Both boards went on to discuss that there would be intention of all current coaches working together, as some already do.

There was some difference of opinion on the split for a middle school sports co-op. Cerro Gordo board member Rodd Runyen said, “I’m all for the co-op, but I am going to play devil’s advocate. So, I look at our taxpayers. We are building a brand new gym for our middle school, and now we are going to send away games. I would like to see the split as more of a 50/50...just throwing it out there.”

Cerro Gordo School Board President Todd Henricks added, “let me throw this out there, because I appreciate the proposals, and I think it is all workable. Rodd just bought up as a devil’s advocate as I am not really wanting to force on the issue or anything, have you taken into consideration the 100 percent high school and 100 percent middle school over Bement?”

Bement School Board President Jeff Funk responded with, “I don’t think we are interested in giving up all of the high school games. I think that is pretty much a non-starter from my standpoint.”

There was some discussion on whether the combined numbers would call for tryouts. However Henricks stated this is not something to fear, “I don’t anticipate that being a problem. I don’t think we are going to have a situation where there will be tryouts and cuts. This year the eighth grade has 11 boys, Bement I guess you have five? Seventh grade, Cerro Gordo has four Bement has five. Sixth grade has 12, Bement has seven. So, we are not talking about numbers where anyone will be cut or not having playing times

Bement Board Member Janice Fogerson added that was one of the major reasons Bement has some concern on combining certain sports.

“We have not struggled with this decision because we can’t work together. We have not struggled with this decision because of the color purple,” she said. We have struggled with this decision because we want kids playing sports. We want kids to be involved.”

Cerro Gordo Board Member Angie Miller took it a step further and questioned whether Bement had considered consolidating the districts, asking, “I have seen so much outstanding things in both of these communities and so far when we’ve come together it has produced amazing things, so why are we not just putting a ring on it, you know what I mean?”

Henricks went on to insinuate Bement may be against the concept as their board members are all Bement graduates while Cerro Gordo’s are not. Forgeson expressed disinterest with that idea.

“I actually think you’re wrong, because it’s not as much as we are Bement graduates as we are the smaller school. Do you know what I mean, nothing to do with that I’m a Bement graduate. What’s going to happen to property taxes? And, I am totally appreciative of your thought but, I think it is more along the lines of we are the little kids here and how it’s going to affect us a lot more than it will affect you,” she said.

Bement parent Kent Shonkwiler was present and stated his desire to keep the discussion on the sports co-op. “Take a pass shove it down and do what’s best for the kids, we don’t need to be talking about consolidation yet, we don’t need to be talking about anything but volleyball and middle school sports co-op. Whatever has happened in the past, let’s just move on.”

Consolidation seems to be out of the question for now, but the addition of volleyball, cross country, and combining middle school sports might be up for a vote early next year. How the split will work is still to be decided.

Kepley stated he desired to get something together contract-wise by January.

“We’ve got time if this is something we are looking at for next year. It would be nice if we had some definitive things set by January. That would give us the spring the chance to work with the other schools in our conference.”

Both boards decided to continue discussions during their regularly scheduled board meetings in November, and will further discuss questions each board has at their respective meetings. The goal that seemed to be in conclusion is to have something decided contract wise by January.

“Let’s just look at our next board meeting coming up in a few weeks and discuss and try to come up with some contract languages,” said Greenwood.



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