By NICK VLAHOS
For The Weekly Post
BRIMFIELD – The sports cooperative between Brimfield and Elmwood high schools will continue for at least two more academic years.
Without discussion, the Brimfield school board voted 6-0 during its meeting March 15 to authorize co-op renewal. Students from Brimfield and Elmwood still will combine to form teams in baseball, cross country, football, softball and track and field. The schools also share a spirit-squad team.
The future of the co-op has been deliberated at board meetings of both districts. Last month, Elmwood school-board members voted 5-1 to renew the co-op for 2023-24 and 2024-25. The Brimfield board’s extra- curricular committee also pondered the co-op’s fate.
“I think a lot of the discussion took place between the extracurricular meeting that we had and the meeting that we had with Elmwood,” Brimfield Board Vice President Jason Snyder said about the perfunctory approval.
“We felt like we were in a good place to extend the co-op. Obviously, (Elmwood) felt the same.”
There was some question about whether the co-op, which has existed for more than three decades, would be renewed.
Baseball Coach Brandon Porter was among the most vocal in expressing skepticism regarding co-op continuation, at least in his sport. He said projected participation numbers in baseball – as many as 45 athletes for 2024 – would result in limited opportunities for players.
However, Elmwood representatives said the co-op was an all-or-nothing deal, as they saw it.
Snyder also is a member of the Brimfield extracurricular committee. He and other board members advocated forming a co-op committee, which would consist of Brimfield and Elmwood representatives. The committee could discuss co-op issues and ideas and confront problems.
“Things float around social media that aren’t necessarily true, and our boards don’t generally meet together,” Snyder said. “So this provides us an opportunity to meet and move the co-op in a positive direction.”
Board member Katie Kappes suggested committee creation wait until summer, after Brimfield hires a new superintendent. The current superintendent, Tony Shinall, is leaving in June for the same job at Princeville.
In other action, the board approved a $34,391.53 deal with Heart Technologies Inc. of East Peoria for 22 security cameras and related equipment at the high school and on district grounds.
“This one was 11 years old. In surveillance-system years, that’s like 147,” Snyder said about the current setup.
The board also authorized an eighth-grade field trip May 16 to the Saint Louis Zoo. The traveling party is to consist of 50 students and three chaperones.
Regarding personnel, the board approved the hirings of Tim Bienemann as a bus driver, Jamie Henson as technology coordinator, Madison Henson as a high school Spanish teacher and Kristin Wagner as a part-time certified staff member.
Matt Cox’s tenure as transportation coordinator also was extended. He helped the district implement an in-house student-transportation service, which began this academic year.
Transportation expenses as of Feb. 21 were almost $735,000, of which about $232,000 were one-time outlays, according to figures Shinall provided. The bid Heinz Bus Co. of Brimfield offered the district last year for student transportation was about $945,000.
Heinz’s five-year contract terms prompted Brimfield officials to start their own bus service. Expenses for the next two academic years are expected to be about $652,500 and $668,000, respectively.
By NICK VLAHOS