Golf in the Warren County School District will be going county-wide - through Warren Area High School.
Despite an appeal by parents during the public comment portion of Thursday night's meeting of the district board of school directors, the board opted to dissolve one co-operative agreement and form another in a move that effectively transforms golf in the district into a county-wide sport.
During the initial public comment session prior to the meeting, Elizabeth Reynolds and Kelly Watson spoke against dissolving a co-operative agreement for golf between Youngsville and Eisenhower High Schools for boys golf.
"We think, given sufficient time, we could increase our numbers," Reynolds said, referring to the driving factor behind the move, a lack of participation. "I don't know how much it was promoted at Youngsville, but given more time, we intend to really reach out to them."
Reynolds cited difficulties with student transportation and rumors the program was canceled as possible drivers of low participation.
Watson summed up their position saying, "I think it is important that we have a little more time."
The appeal prompted Boardmember Marcy Morgan to request both the motion to dissolve and an accompanying motion to form a new co-operative agreement between Eisenhower, Youngsville and Warren Area High School for boys and girls golf to be removed from the consent agenda for separate discussion.
"When this came up in committee, I was under the impression that Eisenhower had been struggling with this for some time," Morgan said. "After listening tonight, I don't think it's unreasonable to give them their second chance."
Phil Knapp, supervisor of district-wide athletics and co-curriculur activities, said talk of canceling the current program didn't come up until the second practice, when only three students attended.
Knapp also noted the low participation numbers have been an ongoing issue for a number of years.
According to district policy, after two years below enrollment thresholds, a program should undergo an analysis to test viability, and, according to Board President Arthur Stewart, the Eisenhower/Youngsville golf program would likely face elimination if it underwent such a process.
"I know that we struggled to get numbers for the last several years," Gary Weber, district director of curriculum, instruction and assessment noted.
Knapp noted that, if a program has too few participants, competitions will not count and it cannot participate as an athletic district team, but must find matches as an independent. In the case of golf, six students must be available to avoid this.
"I'd like to see them get the chance to compete, the kids who can," Knapp said, referring to the opportunity afforded by consolidating teams.
"Is there a set timeline for you to make a co-op work?" Board Vice-president Donna Zariczny asked Knapp. "If we come back in say, two months, and see if they have seven or eight kids?"
Knapp said scheduling for district matches is going on now, making time an important concern.
"Just because they're paying their own greens fees, we're still paying the coach," Stewart noted. "Policy would require an analysis."
Boardmember Thomas Knapp cited concerns over participants getting a chance to play on a larger team, noting golf matches only allow six players to compete regardless of team size.
"That's not going to give everybody an equal opportunity," he said. "If there are 24 kids on the team, only six compete and 18 sit."
"I talked to a senior playing volleyball," Zariczny noted. "She told me she didn't play in a game... because there were better players on the team... I'm sure there are kids that sit in football as well."
"My Concern is," Stewart added. "If you don't do the co-op, you condemn the opportunity to play at all."
Superintendent William Clark weighed in, "My only caution is this has been looked at and you start hearing one more year, one more year... At some point he hard decision has to be made."
The motion to dissolve the co-op for boys' golf between Youngsville and Eisenhower passed in a six-to-two vote. Morgan and Knapp voted against the measure.
The motion to form a co-op for boys' and girls' golf between Youngsville, Eisenhower and Warren passed in a five-to-three vote. Morgan and Knapp were joined in voting against the measure by Boardmember Michael Zamborik, despite Zamborik's vote for dissolving the existing co-operative agreement.
One boardmember, Mary Ann Paris, was absent Thursday night and did not vote.
Warren already has a co-operative agreement with Sheffield Area High School for golf, meaning the move effectively creates a single team for the entire district.