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Keystone School Community Members Grill Athletic Council in Public Meeting Amid Potential Athletic Co-Op

Wednesday, November 15, 2023 @ 11:11 PM

Posted by Jacob Deemer

IMG_3584 (1)KNOX, Pa. (EYT) – The Keystone School District Board of Education’s Athletic Council held a public meeting in Knox on Monday night in response to a potential athletic co-op with Union and Allegheny-Clarion Valley School Districts.

Community members, parents, and students filled the Keystone High School gymnasium well before the 5:00 p.m. scheduled start time.

Keystone Superintendent Michael Hall gave an opening presentation before the council opened the floor for questions and comments from the community.

The council planned to hold their originally scheduled formal meeting at 8:00 p.m., where they would decide to recommend an athletic co-op to the school board.

The public meeting came in response to a community meeting that was held on November 1 in conjunction with the administrative and board representatives from Keystone, Union, and Allegheny-Clarion Valley School Districts to provide information to the community about a potential athletic co-op between the three school districts.

The window for deciding whether or not to co-op is short, according to district administration. If the districts don’t apply before November 30th, they will be disallowed from participating in playoffs in the 2024-2025 season.

According to district administration representatives, the main reason for co-oping is to give students more opportunities to play competitive sports. They pointed to PIAA rules that disallow districts from co-oping for the purpose of improving outcome potential in competitions.

Not all sports programs are on the table.

Administrators shared a 16-page Cooperative Athletics Procedural Handbook with community members which detailed how the districts would cooperate should the three school boards vote for the co-op, including revenue and expense sharing and transportation plans.

After a one-hour presentation on November 1, which included answers to questions that were submitted, the floor was opened to the public for questions and comments. Several parents stated that the co-op would hurt participation rather than help it, citing some students’ desire to play with the friends that they’ve played with since they were children, along with concerns about added time spent being transported from school to school.

Other parents expressed concern that their children may not get enough playing time, and having larger teams would hurt their chances of seeing any time off the bench. Coaches countered that with larger rosters, more teams can be organized at the junior varsity and freshman level, making it more likely for second and third-stringers to get play time.

District administrators invited parents and concerned citizens to attend school board meetings in their districts and voice their support or opposition to their board members.

On November 13, parents of Keystone were invited to share their concerns before the athletic council meeting.

After Superintendent Hall gave his opening presentation, nearly a dozen community members took the stand to voice their opinions and ask questions.

The first of the speakers was a group of three Keystone baseball players, led by Kord Stewart, who spoke on behalf of the group.

In his remarks, Stewart requested the athletic council to approve the baseball co-op—a position that was not completely shared by the majority of the parents.

Stewart was the only student to speak on Monday evening, as he was followed by community members who strongly opposed the co-op.

Among the notable speakers were former Keystone boys’ soccer coach and current girls’ soccer coach Eric Mount.

Mount occupied the stand for nearly 30 minutes as he indicated many other parents provided him with questions to be answered.

As the time approached 8:00 p.m., Superintendent Hall announced that the public comment portion would need to wrap up in order for the athletic council to hold their regularly scheduled meeting.

After the last speaker, Hall thanked the community for their input, and the athletic council huddled at the front of the auditorium to begin their meeting. The majority of those in attendance stuck around for the meeting, which was still considered public.

The athletic council began deliberations with the eyes of community members bearing down.

The deliberations consisted of which athletic programs would be formally recommended for school board approval.

The following sports were considered for a potential co-op recommendation:

  • Varsity football
  • Junior high football
  • Varsity (sideline) cheerleading
  • Junior high (sideline) cheerleading
  • Varsity boys soccer
  • Varsity girls soccer
  • Junior high co-ed boys and girls soccer
  • Varsity boys cross country
  • Varsity girls cross country
  • Junior high boys cross country
  • Junior high girls cross country
  • Varsity girls golf
  • Junior high girls golf
  • Varsity girls basketball
  • Junior high girls basketball
  • Varsity baseball
  • Junior high baseball
  • Junior high softball
  • Varsity boys track & field
  • Varsity girls track & field
  • Junior high boys track & field
  • Junior high girls track & field

At the conclusion of the meeting, the athletic council decided to recommend just varsity and junior high football, as well as varsity and junior high baseball.

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