When the Stewardson-Strasburg School Board voted 4-3 not to renew its sports co-op with Windsor on May 30, it appeared next season would be the last for the Hatchets.
But instead, the two schools got together and hammered out an agreement. On Wednesday, both schools boards voted at their respective schools to accept a new sports co-op agreement effective immediately.
Stew-Stras superintendent Michele Lindenmeyer said her school board asked her in July to meet with Windsor superintendent Erik Van Hoveln.
"They wanted us to come up with what we thought would be the best and present it to the boards and either they will like or it walk away," said Lindenmeyer.
Van Hoveln said those talks went well.
"We had some good conversations and I knew what my board wanted and she knew what her board wanted," Van Hoveln said. "When we were done we felt like it was plausible for both boards."
The result was what Lindenmeyer said was an, "intergovernmental agreement that addressed some of the concerns that have been expressed.
"We took the old agreement and struck out the things that didn't work and wrote some new language to hopefully make it work," Lindenmeyer said.
Windsor's board passed the proposal 6-0 with one member not present; the Stew-Stras board passed it 6-1.
Since it replaces the previous co-op agreement and IHSA co-ops are, by rule, two-year agreements, this co-op agreement runs through the 2019-2020 school year.
"We took the approach that we have tried to address some of the concerns and make it better so why make it a year to make it better?" Lindenmeyer said. "If we have a plan why not implement it, and so it started today (Thursday)."
Lindenmeyer said the main changes were in expenditures of transportation, host schools and chain of command language.
"What we really tried to do is take things that had been problems in the past and try and find some ways to remedy it," said Lindenmeyer. "There was a lot of confusion and that wasn't anyone's fault, but just that it had not been clearly articulated. We included it in the agreement so that people knew if there were problems or issues — where do they go, who do they speak to and what is the next step in the chain?"
The IHSA requires a host school in a co-op agreement. Per the new agreement, instead of sharing everything down the line — like in the previous agreement — the host school will do it all.
"The host school will be in charge of coaches, all expenditures and get the revenue for that sport," said Van Hoveln. "I think it will make it a little bit cleaner."
Windsor is now the host for golf, volleyball, softball, cheer and dance; Stew-Stras will hosts boys basketball, girls basketball and baseball.
Previously Windsor was the host of boys basketball, baseball, cheer and dance and golf, while Stew-Stras hosted volleyball, girls basketball and softball.
The first WSS sports co-op agreement was made in May of 2014 for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. The co-op was approved in 2014 7-0 at Stew-Stras and 5-2 at Windsor.
"From the outside looking in, it (the sports co-op) is not going to look any different than it ever has," said Lindenmeyer. "The only difference is the mechanisms on the inside. You should not know who the host school is as it should be transparent because we are still doing 50/50 games and 50/50 practices. It is still the Hatchets and the same colors."
Both schools had either started or were about to start scheduling basketball games for the 2019-20 season without the sports co-op and now can do so with the co-op.