School district turns down swimming co-op

The Ridgway Area School District Board of Directors voted against participating in a co-op swimming program with the St. Marys Area School District during Tuesday night's regular meeting.Superintendent Dr. Michael O'Brien said even though the board did not reach an agreement Tuesday night they will continue to work toward instituting a co-op program."One of the things we have been trying to work on is what we could consider an agreeable co-op with one of our neighboring schools," O'Brien said. "There has been little ability to work out an amicable agreement of cost; however, we will continue to look. "We now have several children that are student athletes who would like to participate in swimming and we will continue to look at other avenues to offer that service. We will still be open to dialogue with the school district, if they will be willing to reconsider that agreement."The St. Marys Area School District is requesting a cost of $500 per student, not including costs for transportation and other minuscule issues to participate in a co-op program.Board President Lisa Connelly said there has been a tremendous amount of discussion on the issue and the decision was very difficult.A concerned parent said he offered to pay the $500 cost."We at this point do not know how to manage some of the policies that are going to have to go into place, because we as parents would normally pick that [cost] up for the first two years, as with any new sport, but what happens in the next two years or if we wind up with a group of students who are not willing to pay that?" Connelly asked. "Then we as a district have to determine whether we can accommodate the exorbitant amount of money they are requesting."Right now we have four or five students who want to swim on the team which is a very reasonable number and I appreciate that you as parents are willing to pay for that. The problem is, what if in two years we have 18 kids who want to swim on the team who are coming to us to request that amount of money or even a higher level of money being requested by St. Marys to this district to cover the cost? Until we can come up with an equitable offer for our students, we cannot make that kind of financial commitment." Pick up a copy of the Saturday, May 12, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.