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Seneca and Wauzeka-Steuben approve a co-op football team
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The Seneca School Board approved an agreement creating a co-op football team with Wauzeka-Steuben at their regular monthly meeting Monday night.

Meanwhile in Wauzeka on Monday night, the Wauzeka-Steuben School Board also approved the agreement creating a co-op football team.

In Seneca the co-op football agreement was one of the first orders of business. On hand for the discussion were Seneca football coach Justin Goodrich, some concerned parents and a couple of other folks.

In introducing the agreement that had been worked out with Wauzeka-Steuben over the last couple of months, Seneca School District Administrator Dave Boland readily acknowledged that most involved still would have preferred a plan to play eight-man football and avoid the co-op team route. However, Boland explained that there wasn’t enough interest to create a conference of eight-man teams in the area at the moment. The administrator held out hope that this could change in the future as more schools with declining enrollments face difficulties fielding 11-man teams.

The new co-op football team agreement is for two years. Boland outlined some of the major aspects of the agreement, which calls for each school to travel to the other school half of the time for practices and home games. The idea is to practice on the field, where the next home game will be played, for a week or two leading up to that game.

Each district will pay for the expenses of their players’ uniforms and transportation. Lots of equipment already owned by the schools, like helmets and pads, will be reused by the new co-op team.

The schools will purchase new jerseys, helmet decals and other things. The team will be known as the Blue-Golds.

 Three of those in attendance expressed some skepticism about the proposed team. One parent, Brian Hagensick, described his experiences driving middle school players to Wauzeka-Steuben to play football this year. He noted that what started as two carloads of players became just one carload after a few weeks as players lost interest in traveling to participate.

Hagensick and his wife questioned whether the planned co-op team given the travel time would leave enough time for the players to complete their homework every night.

Seneca School Board President Mark Johnson was quick to acknowledge the board considered what the additional lost travel time will mean in terms of homework and remains concerned with the situation. It is estimated the trip between the two schools takes about a half hour. That means the traveling school, which will alternate, will lose an additional hour beyond the practice time.

Later, Johnson, the school board president, noted the positive effect playing on the football team had on his life despite “not being that good.”

Although several board members and the district administrator acknowledged some of the downsides of the co-op team plan, everyone involved thought it presented the best option for two schools looking at decreasing numbers of players.

Next season, Wauzeka-Steuben will have just three juniors out for the team and no seniors.  The school had already committed to only playing a junior varsity season because of the situation. Seneca believes they will have nine freshmen, five sophomores  and seven upperclassmen out for the football team. The intention of the co-op team is to have a junior varsity team in addition to a varsity team.

Seneca School Board Member Chad Sime moved to approve the co-op football team agreement with Wauzeka-Steuben and board member Brian Reynolds seconded the motion. The board approved the co-op football team unanimously with a 7-0 vote.

In other business, the Seneca School Board was given a policy for review to determine how to select a winner for the new Technical Excellence Scholarship now being funded by the state.

• approved a $4,000 bid for upgrading the school’s outdoor lighting to LED lights with a cost savings that pays for the change in three years

• briefly discussed, but did not act, on a request to alter the school district boundaries to allow a property currently in the district to be taken into  the Prairie du Chien School District

• received $10,007 in donations from the Seneca Educational Foundation to enhance student learning, including $7,392 to fund Chromebook computers for the Class of 2018, $1,515 to partially fund a tuba for the music department, $800 for a counseling curriculum for grades Kindergarten and First, and a $300 donation toward the ‘Reality Check’ program

• approved increasing the baseball and softball team’s equipment budgets from $400 to $700

• approved a baseball field improvement project that involved spreading some lime and grading

• approved the school district ballot for the spring election to include incumbents Brenda Ostrander and Brian Reynolds

• selected football coach Justin Goodrich, athletic director Kim Redman and assistant principal Pat Connors to receive the school district’s monthly recognition award for their work on the football co-op agreement with Wauzeka-Steuben