Hell Freezes Over: C-L and Clarion Area Agree to Football Co-Op But Some Questions Remain

| January 17, 2019

STRATTANVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – The Clarion-Limestone School Board approved a cooperative football program between Clarion-Limestone, Clarion Area, and North Clarion at Tuesday night’s board meeting, but a new contract with the Clarion-Limestone Education Association has yet to be resolved.

(Photo by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography.)

Under the new five-year agreement, Clarion Limestone’s estimated annual costs in the first year of the program are $22,824 including 1002 at $1,268 for six coaches of the new team. Last year’s operating costs of the C-L team were $22,600.

Board members were assured that C-L could leave the program at any time and it is officially reviewed every two years of the five-year program. Junior varsity teams are considered part of varsity programs, and the junior high co-op program with Clarion area still has one more year.

Mike Meals, chair of the Athletic Committee, reported on an informational meeting held at C-L last week. Questions were answered about the program and Meals said it was positive enough to not include a football coach in another agenda item for hiring fall sports head coaches. Only cross country, golf, junior high girls basketball, and boys soccer coaches were hired in anticipation of co-op approval.

Voting to approve the football co-op program were Molly Greenawalt, Kathy Henry, Terry Leadbetter, Mike Meals, David Schirmer, Gary Sproul, and Lee Stewart. Voting against the proposal were Jamie Mahle and Roger Powell.

“This has been a very long process. It’s been two years, so it’s not something we are proceeding in a full hearty fashion or quickly,” said Board President Molly Greenawalt.  “The people who worked with Mike (Meals) and I at Clarion had a bottom line that really drove home the idea of a co-op that has to do with our students and players, giving them a better safer opportunity.

“Clarion’s students will have an opportunity to participate in the cheerleading program. Our band will have a little different opportunity where they’ll be mixing up what’s another school. I think it’s important that for everybody.

“Going into these discussions and for our first meeting, we thought they might be pushing us to be Bobcats. Discussion ensued and Mike made the point that our board would feel a lot more comfortable with adding a section that we are definitely becoming a different entity and they were very open to that. Having many meetings to negotiate the terms of the agreement and talk about 1000 things, I think that it was really important.

“I want to stress that as a group we really came together. I think it was a very useful mutual agreement and there was input from both sides. One of the things that Mike and I feel comfortable with is that the committee will make suggestions. We’re putting our faith in them that they will honor and respect that. We all want this to work and we would like to see a very successful endeavor and with that in mind nobody wants to take the steps forward and back out on a verbal promise.”

Participation in last year’s Junior High school football program increased through the co-op, from 15 to 17 students. The school board president and football coach said they were anticipating more participation from the C-L students with the new co-op program. Here

Questions about transportation still need to be resolved, but likely a waiver will be issued for C-L students who would like to drive their own vehicles to practices and home games.

“We still have some questions about how much of the space the band fills up for the football games and maybe our bands will get bigger and we need more than one bus and can put cheerleaders there,” Greenawalt said. That is one of us questions we know we need to address and we need to fill in those blanks if the agreement passes. I’m hoping we see an increase in participation which would make the flat fee more attractive to us and decrease the cost per athlete.”

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