Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 15, 2012

Area school districts turning more to co-oping

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

STRASBURG — As Stewardson-Strasburg School District continues to push for co-ops with local schools, other districts are starting to ready themselves for possible cooperative programs.

    “Our looks are still pre-preliminary,” said Neoga District Superintendent Charles Castle. "We’re still digging deeper into books in our district and seeing what we need and could offer. There are some very good opportunities for both of us, particularly in dual-credit opportunities.”

    Although Neoga is still in the early stages of deciding on co-oping, Castle said budget woes may force the district into an academic or athletic co-op, potentially both.

    “We’re all just reeling over all the budget cuts from the state,” he said. “If there’s anything that we can do to guarantee our kids the best education, we’re going to be open to that.”

    New information about the potential co-op, including the results of talks in Windsor School District will be discussed at the Stew-Stras school board meeting, scheduled for 7 tonight in the high school. Stew-Stras Superintendent Steve Harsy said support for an academic co-op has been vastly positive.

    “Academic is the primary focus,” he said. “There’s been 100 percent support to find an academic solution, but the sports side is a much different side of the coin.”

    Harsy said some of the districts that have been curious about a co-op have had concerns about the way athletic costs would be divided, as well as where teams would practice and play, although he still hopes some athletic co-oping could begin as soon as the spring semester.

    Castle said he hopes Neoga will be able to make decisions soon about co-oping and some progress has been made in preparing the district for that choice.

    “We’re getting there,” he said. “We’re studying the district’s financial records and looking at what we could be doing. We’re preparing to move quickly. We’re making every effort.”

    Harsy said ultimately the goal of  co-oping and the necessity of moving quickly is to provide the best opportunities to students from any district.

    “In the near future, we all need to start comparing some notes,” he said. “We need to look at the costs and benefits and how we can maintain or improve the standards for our kids.”

    Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.