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The county-wide football team was discussed at the Monday night meeting of the Union County School Board, and a decision about the future of the co-op program could be made when the board meets again later this month.
Union County head coach Scott Duley prepared a proposal for the board’s April meeting, which broke down the five-year plan if the program stayed county-wide and another outlining what would happen if it became strictly an athletic option for East Union. With everything from personnel to equipment discussed, the cost to keep the program for all of the county schools could range anywhere from $2 to $3 million while a program only at East Union would cost around $200,000-$300,000.
“[The county-wide program] was a great idea and the concept is great,” Union County Superintendent Ken Basil said. “But I think the money is too tight right now to continue the path we’re going.”
Basil recommended that the district make the program available at East Union only and give students at other schools who are interested in playing the chance to transfer over.
Another issue with the current program is that it will compete as a 5A school once it finishes its status as an independent in two years. The safety of the kids playing at that level raises concerns with Duley.
“There is just a big difference between our kids and the kids in programs that we would have to compete against being in 5A,” he said. “We would be able to make it a safer environment for these men if we were a 2A program.”
The same concerns were mentioned by board members Wayne Mayhon (East Union) and Mickey Basil (West Union), who are in favor of the program moving to East Union.
“I played football,” Mickey Basil said. “What we’re talking about is like sending Falkner to play South Panola.”
Board members Buddy Dixon (Ingomar) and Johnny Rakestraw are in favor of keeping the program county-wide, and suggested more time to discuss the manner before making a decision.
“When we started this co-op program, it was about a lot more than just football,’ Dixon said. “We came up with the idea because we wanted to give the kids opportunity to be in the band too, and also start some advanced classes that kids from all schools could come together in one location and be in. It was a bigger vision than we had.”
“I understand what you’re saying about the safety concerns and I want our kids to be safe too. I also understand that there are budget concerns as well,” Rakestraw explained. “But I don’t want to jeopardize the vision that we had. We need to give it more time.”
Terry Cook, board president, feeling that his vote will be the deciding factor as the board is currently split on the decision, requested more time as well. The board will meet again to discuss the manner on Monday, May 16.
One factor that will contribute in the issue is if there are more commitments to the program from the other county schools (West Union, Myrtle and Ingomar). If there are any students who wish to commit to the program, they should contact Duley at firstname.lastname@example.org.