O. and H. school boards continue co-op talks
March 16, 2017
A crowd filled the cafeteria of the Odessa schools March 8 for the special meeting called by the Harrington and Odessa School Boards for the purpose of discussing further the athletic cooperative between the two districts. The group was about evenly represented by people from Harrington and Odessa. Both communities have had open meetings in their respective towns this winter to discuss various aspects of the cooperative (see sidebar for the report by Mark Smith of the Davenport Times on the Harrington meeting).
The meeting was chaired by Odessa board chairman Ed Deife, who asked each board member to speak about his/her concerns. Some comments were that the co-op appeared not to be as inclusive as it could be, that too few Harrington kids right now were opting to participate in sports and that there should be a greater emphasis on “we” rather than on “you” and “them.”
Suggestions were that younger kids from each school be given more opportunities to come together and get to know one another. Some activities like peewee basketball (or “bitty ball” as it’s known in Harrington), Little League baseball and flag football help to provide bonding among the younger children, but some Odessa parents felt that there was perhaps less enthusiasm for such activities on the part of Harrington parents, especially those who opted to participate in those activities in Davenport rather than Odessa. A Harrington parent new to the area responded that Davenport did a much better job of communicating and reaching out to Harrington parents than did the Odessa groups. Having seen the Davenport information first, she signed her kids up before she even was aware that Odessa had their own programs.
Lack of parental participation at home games was also brought up. Some Odessa parents said they felt that interest in athletics on the part of Harrington was not what it could be and that Odessa people outnumbered them even for games played in their home gym in Harrington.
The largest group of Harrington folks at the meeting appeared to be parents of children in grades 1-6, who said they were very interested in making a success of the co-op. They wanted more chances for the children of both towns to participate in joint activities. They also said they felt that youngsters who had only ever been Titans, and not Panthers or Tigers or Falcons, would have more loyalty to one another as the years of the co-op agreement go on.
After all those who wished to speak had had their say, the boards agreed to soldier on and all concerned agreed to try to achieve better communication. The superintendents of the two schools also agreed to meet to work on ways to make the transportation for practices and games as streamlined as possible, as well as to save costs wherever possible. The meeting ended on a positive note, as the boards committed to continue their efforts to make the sports co-op a success.
By MARK SMITH
A group of about 50 gathered in the Harrington School lunchroom on March 6 to share concerns about the Odessa-Harrington sports cooperative.
The two school districts’ board of directors, who double as the co-op’s board, subsequently met in Odessa on Wednesday of last week.
“We were hearing rumblings from Odessa that they didn’t want to continue in the co-op and that was confirmed by their administration,” Harrington board chair Darren Mattozzi explained as he called the Harrington meeting to order, adding that “our K-6 parents are dedicated to the co-op working, as are both school boards.”
The concerns involve relationships between the two communities, current low participation by Harrington students in school sports, having games and practices more evenly split between Harrington and Odessa, and perceived favoritism by Odessa-based coaches towards Odessa athletes.
Mattozzi said that in order to retain an equal say in how the co-op is governed, Harrington would need to continue paying 50 percent of its expenses, even if its student participation numbers continue on the low side.
Several parents said they want improved communication from coaches regarding scheduling of last minute or special practices. A few shared concerns about how their children have been treated by coaches from Odessa.
Having additional games and practices in Harrington would be a way to entice local students into the various sports programs, the group agreed.
Mattozzi and the current O-H Booster Club president, who is from Harrington, strongly encouraged attendance at co-op meetings and involvement in Booster activities.