The Washington Court House City Schools Board of Education unanimously voted Monday evening to leave the South Central Ohio League (SCOL).
Recently, Washington C.H. and Miami Trace school districts, along with three other area districts, made the decision to leave the SCOL at the conclusion of the 2016-17 school year. This decision came following a series of meetings in recent weeks to discuss the possible expansion of the eight-team SCOL. Miami Trace, Washington C.H., Greenfield McClain, Hillsboro and Chillicothe have expressed an intent to either merge with an existing league or invite other schools to join them in forming an eight-team league, commencing with the 2017-18 school year.
The Southern Buckeye Athletic & Academic Conference Expansion Committee has recommended that the three Clinton County school districts that were left behind – Wilmington, Clinton-Massie and East Clinton – be added to the SBAAC.
“Currently, Hillsboro approved their (resolution to leave the SCOL) on (March 16) and Miami Trace approved it earlier this month, but Greenfield was voting (Monday), Chillicothe is voting (Monday) and we were tonight,” Washington City Schools Superintendent Matthew McCorkle said during the board meeting. “Phil Howard (Jackson City School District Superintendent) sent this letter out and they made it out to the board meetings up to this point. But obviously with three tonight, they could not be at all of them. On behalf of Chillicothe, Superintendent Saxton (Jon) actually sat down with their attorney and paid the fee to give us a by-law that helps to give us some better protection if someone comes after the district. I appreciate him doing that and picking up the fees. I think, for our kids overall, this is a good move, an important move.”
According to McCorkle, nothing will change for next year, the 2016-17 school year. Things will change dramatically though for the 2017-18 school year. With six teams having announced their intent to form a new league or join another existing league, they are committed to making it work. The board members read the letter from Jackson City Schools, which thanked them for the consideration to join their league and attempted to assure the board of the reliability and commitment of the district.
“On behalf of The Jackson City School Board of Education, the Jackson Community, the Jackson Athletic Department, and most importantly Jackson’s student athletes, I want to take this opportunity to sincerely thank you,” Superintendent Howard wrote in the letter. “For some time we have been searching for an appropriate league which we could join only to be rejected at every turn. Thanks to the willingness and leadership demonstrated by schools like yours, we will now be able to provide solid and competitive athletic opportunities for our students and the Jackson City Schools community at large.”
The letter goes on to explain how the district had been a member of the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League (SEOAL), the oldest league in existence in the State of Ohio.
Several Washington C.H. board members expressed views on the separation and concerns of how the communities and students will react as athletes travel to compete during their final year in the SCOL.
“It’s not a whole lot different going to Jackson, drive time, then if you were going to Clinton-Massie, with a difference of only about 10 minutes,” Washington City School Board Vice President Craig Copas said.
“Jackson is the site for most of the tournaments in the southeast district,” McCorkle said. “Their facilities are awesome, their football field is used every year up to the regional finals, and even has had state semi-final games. So their facilities are immaculate and second to none. I have no reservations about putting any of my kids there. I think it’ll be no different than how things are now….there are things we excel in and things we don’t.”
“When you explore the situation, it just makes so much more sense,” board member Jon Creamer said. “Traditionally, historically and even nostalgically we are more tied with Wilmington, 22 miles away, than Jackson, 55 miles away. I just don’t think they understand how things have changed. I don’t see us having a future expanding to the southwest, or the south. If you go north, you have Columbus and we have done that before. I think it has to be the southeast. It’s a shame you can’t continue to compete with a school like Wilmington. I don’t think a lot of people see it, they just think to themselves that we have been playing them since 1901…..times are changing. Now (the SCOL) is not as good of a fit as it has been.”
Other items on the agenda included a presentation coupled with a request from the Washington High School DECA and High School of Business programs. The group was seeking approval for multiple fundraising and community centered projects, which included cleaning The Warehouse, a place for teens to hang out; collecting book bags to give to The Well at Sunnyside; a lip syncing contest and many more. The board applauded for the group as each presenter was finished and approved the projects unanimously.
Former Washington High School teacher, Paul LaRue, also attended the meeting to bring a completed book on the Gist Settlement Project and the West Settlement Project. The projects took about 10 years to complete, and LaRue explained different aspects of the historical and educational impact of the projects. He finished by explaining that it was thanks to support from the board over the years that they were able to accomplish these projects and many others.
The board also announced that kindergarten registration for the 2016-17 school year will be held on Monday, May 9 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the cafeteria of Cherry Hill Primary School. Those who cannot come are welcome to stop at the Cherry Hill office on Tuesday, May 10 or Wednesday, May 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Children must be 5-years-old by Aug. 1 to register for kindergarten. Documents that need to be brought for registration include birth certificate, social security number, immunization record, verification of address and proof of custody, if applicable.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy