ACADEMY TABLES ALL-SPORTS DEAL AFTER PUBLIC APPROVES IT
The Freeman School Board voted 4-1 Monday night, Jan. 10 to approve an all-sports cooperative with both Marion and Freeman Academy as outlined by a Freeman Public task force put in place earlier this summer.
Later in the evening, the Freeman Academy Board of Directors tabled the issue because it wants more time to consider the proposal. Head of School Nathan Epp told The Courier late Monday night that Freeman Academy’s decision to table the agenda item didn’t have as much to do with the proposal itself as it did the lack of input from the board.
“It needs to feel more like a process,” he said.
Marion is expected to vote on the same proposal Tuesday night, Jan. 11, which includes the condition that consolidation between Freeman Public and Marion would be discussed beginning in the summer of 2023, with a vote of the respective communities in November of that year.
Freeman School Board Member Slade Ammann cast the lone “no” vote Monday night and spoke out strongly against the need for a sports cooperative. He said the district’s recent surge in enrollment — a trend that is expected to continue — doesn’t make sports cooperation a priority at this time.
“Did the committee take into consideration how many more students we have now that we did a year ago, or even three years ago and why we even need the sports cooperative anymore?” he said, noting that Freeman Public’s ADM in 2016-17 was 303 and this year stands at 382, and that enrollment is up 50 students in just the past year.
“And we still need a sports co-op?” he said. “I’m going to have to disagree with the committee on that.”
The task force put in place last summer included two board members, staff and students from Freeman Public and at-large community members. Under their recommendation and proposal being taken up by the three school boards this week:
Football: Freeman Public would host three games and Marion would host one, with playoff games at Freeman Public. Practices would be split 50/50 between Freeman Public and Marion. At the junior varsity and junior high level, Freeman Public and Marion would each host two games and practices would be split 50/50;
Basketball and volleyball: Freeman Public would host seven games, Marion two and Freeman Academy one. Playoff games would be at Freeman Public and practices would be split 50/50 between Freeman Public and Marion;
Soccer: Freeman Academy would host all home matches;
Cheer: Still to be decided;
Everything else: In all other sports and at all levels — wrestling, track, cross-country, golf and softball (after it is sanctioned in 2023) — all practices and competitions would be held at Freeman Public.
With Freeman Academy tabling the issue and uncertainty about what the Marion School Board will do tonight, what happens next remains murky at best. But Emily Andersen, board chair at Freeman Public, laid out the expectation at Monday’s board meeting.
“If all three boards pass the agreement that we decided on, it would move forward as is,” she said. “But if any of the three do not pass it, it would be null and void at that time and we would start over.”
This is a developing story.