As funding for high school athletics in Warren County School District dwindles, the number of sports programs may do the same.
School board members and administrators have discussed ways to save money on sports.
Eliminating some of the offerings is not their first choice, but it is a possibility.
There are no plans to do away with any particular sports currently offered in the district, according to Supervisor of District-Wide Athletics Jim Miller. That doesn't mean it won't happen down the road.
If programs are cut at one school or another, there is a way for that school's athletes to continue to participate.
A cooperative sports agreement allows students at one school to join a sport offered at another.
It's not as simple as letting a student go and be on a team.
If there is not already a cooperative agreement in place for the school and sport in question, there are several steps required. "It usually takes a year's time to do," Miller said.
The principals at the schools fill out the paperwork for the cooperative agreement.
There are reasons that the principals or the district would not agree to a cooperative.
If two or three students would be leaving an existing sports program at one school to join a different sport at another school, the impact to the first sport could be considered.
"It may be that if we develop a soccer program for boys, what's it going to do to our football program?" Miller said.
Because the number of students the team could draw from increases with a co-op, a program's competitive classification could change.
Under Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletics Association (PIAA) rules, half of the co-op school's male or female student population is counted toward the host school's. A single-A school might move up to double-A, or a double-A bump to triple-A.
Sometimes that is not an acceptable consequence. At other times, it is.
"At Warren swimming, if they hadn't had the co-ops with the other schools, that would have bumped them down a classification," Miller said.
There are rules that keep schools from cheating the classification system.
Because only half of the population is counted, a small school cannot be the host in a co-op with a large school. The large school - more than 300 male or female students, depending on the sport, in grades nine through 12 - would have to be the host.
If Warren Area High School were to have a cooperative agreement with any other district high school, because of the PIAA rules the team would be called the Warren Dragons and wear blue and white.
The team could compete and practice at whatever location is determined by the district, Miller said. In the above example, the Warren Dragons, featuring players from Youngsville, for example, could practice and play home games at Youngsville High School.
Once building and district officials decide to create a co-op, the athletic conference the host school is a part of has the next say.
Conference officials might not approve a co-op for a full year to alleviate scheduling problems.
The PIAA has the final say, but Miller said the state organization will generally go along with the District 10 or District 9 decision for schools in Warren County.
When PIAA makes the final call, it will not be based on a recommendation of a school board. "The PIAA only recognizes principals," Miller said.
If a program is dropped due to lack of funding or participation, there is another option for students who wanted to play.
Athletics is not generally an acceptable reason for students to transfer to another school. However, according to Miller, if a sport offered at a school is dropped, students in that sport may transfer to a school that still offers it. Transportation would be the responsibility of the student's family.