SPORTS CO-OP TALKS CONTINUING
JEREMY WALTNER – PUBLISHER
Conversations between school leadership at Freeman Public, Freeman Academy and Marion regarding the possibility of a sports cooperative are continuing.
Freeman School Board President Emily Andersen and Superintendent Jake Tietje both confirmed with The Courier on Tuesday that representatives from all three school districts were scheduled to meet at Freeman Academy Wednesday night, Feb. 2.
Those representatives were to include the Freeman Public task force put together last year, as well as two board members and the top administrator from each school.
Andersen said it is her understanding that Marion and Freeman Academy will be bringing a counterproposal to the one made by the Freeman Public task force — and approved by the board — last month.
“I have not seen it, but it is my understanding that they will come with such a document,” she said. “We are looking forward to discussing some more logistics and having it be more of an open discussion.
“We’ll have a better idea where things stand (after Wednesday’s meeting),” Andersen said.
Tietje, who said Freeman Public wants to “be respectful in our discussion with them,” used the word “borrowed time” for context as to the urgency of the situation. He said leadership at the South Dakota High School Activities Association has set a deadline of Feb. 16 for a football proposal, which makes the matter pressing.
Freeman Public is without a gridiron home since Canistota pulled out of the Pride cooperative in December.
“That’s our absolute end-all date,” Tietje told The Courier, but suggested that just because the SDHSAA is giving them another two weeks to come up with a plan doesn’t mean they should take that much time.
“Every day we wait we are holding them up from their schedule,” he said. “We want to show respect to them so they can do their jobs.”
Freeman Public is scheduled to meet again in regular session Monday night, Feb. 14.
Tietje said, given the tight timeline with the SDHSAA, those at the task force meeting on Wednesday night will discuss collectively whether a special meeting should be called ahead of the regularly scheduled meetings.
“We don’t want to get out of synch with each other,” he said.
This is the latest in a discussion that goes back to early January, when Freeman Public proposed a sports arrangement showing, in part, a breakdown in home games. Under the proposal, in basketball and volleyball, Freeman Public would host seven games, Marion would host two and Freeman Academy would host one.
The proposal also includes the caveat that a discussion about consolidation between Freeman Public and Marion would take place in the summer of 2023, with a vote of both district’s constituencies later in the year.
While the full Freeman Public School Board approved the proposal 4-1, Freeman Academy and Marion both tabled the issue in the interest of fairness and larger discussion.
Freeman Academy and Marion are currently in a cooperative in all sports except football, where last season they attached to Bridgewater-Emery/Ethan.
Freeman Public and Marion have been in a wrestling cooperative since 1991.