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The Villa Grove/Heritage co-op is up for renewal in the spring, but both districts want different things from the co-op moving forward.
Heritage Superintendent Tom Davis said his district would like the co-op to be a full co-op and include volleyball, common colors and a common mascot.
Villa Grove sees things differently, Davis said, and has said they would like to discuss removing sports from the co-op and do not want common colors or a common mascot.
“They have indicated to our board that they would like to take one or more sports or activities out of the co-op,” Davis said.
Davis said this recommendation was made by the Villa Grove sports committee and was pending full board approval.
Davis said Heritage is maintaining its position on the co-op.
For almost four years, the district has wanted a full co-op that included volleyball and to consider a common mascot and colors.
The co-op has been in place since 2013. It includes football, cross-country, golf, boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball, softball and track and field. Villa Grove is the host school for everything but boys’ basketball and baseball.
Davis said to Heritage, the financial considerations are enough that they do not want to consider removing sports from the co-op because then the districts would have to pay double to offer the same sports.
Currently, the programs in the co-ops are paid for by both districts. The districts pay for students’ transportation to and from games and practices.
Both districts now have identical sports and sports travel fees with a cap per player and family for the school year.
“The financials show some significant savings for both districts,” Davis said.
Davis said competitively the co-op has benefited both schools by enabling football to have three playoff appearances, allowing girls’ basketball to survive when numbers were low at both schools and allowing athletes to be developed in multi-tiered systems in which there are freshman, freshman/sophomore, junior varsity and varsity teams.
“If the schools separate back in any current sports, we are concerned that both schools will struggle with numbers and competitively against schools around us and in the Little Okaw Valley Conference where the Northwest Division schools are already larger co-ops, consolidations or larger districts already, let alone against the established schools in our division that co-op,” Davis said.
Davis said he is concerned that if the sports are removed from the co-op, numbers would fall because of a slew of factors.
“Our board does not want to explore trading short-term success for long-term stability on any of these accounts,” Davis said.
Villa Grove held a public meeting on Nov. 21 to encourage the public to voice its thoughts on the co-op.
Superintendent Norm Tracy published a public letter regarding the co-op to the Villa Grove website.
The letter stated in part, “I would like the public to know that I participate in numerous meetings and I have never attended any meeting of our board members that discussed terminating our current co-op, so I do not understand where that rumor developed.”
The letter also read, “The Villa Grove Board of Education has developed many committees and an Athletic Committee is one of them. They have met numerous times and spent multiple hours to study this issue. They have met with a committee from Heritage to develop dialogue, share views, and try to develop a consensus.”