Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ironwood board votes to dissolve Miners football co-op


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Ironwood — The three-district football co-op team in western Gogebic County is no more after the Ironwood Area Schools’ board of education voted to dissolve the co-op Monday, with the other districts in the co-op taking similar votes.

The team consisted of students from the Ironwood, Bessemer and Wakefield-Marenisco school districts.

“All three schools, through very cordial and collaborative conversation, … have agreed to dissolve the current Gogebic Miners football co-op with the intention we will regroup into most likely two separate teams,” Ironwood Superintendent Travis Powell said Monday.

“The next step is going to be the development of Red Devil football here in Ironwood,” Powell said. “(I’m) pretty excited about that, but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, the first step is (dissolving the co-op).”

Powell said the decision to dissolve the co-op came after the three athletic directors and the team coaches realized 11-man football wasn’t the right place to be competitive, due to the need to play larger schools, and a transition to 8-player football was needed.

“We’re getting beat up in that area,” Powell said, referring to 11-man football. “As we analyzed (playing 8-player football) further, it became apparent that, in order to fit well in an 8-man conference, remaining as all three schools together is no longer the best fit for everybody.”

Ironwood joined the existing Miners co-op between Bessemer and Wakefield-Marenisco in the spring of 2017. At the time, declining turnout for football each season was given as the primary reason to join the co-op.

Bessemer’s board also voted to dissolve the co-op team at its meeting Monday, as well as a motion to formulate an agreement with Wakefield-Marenisco to form a two-team co-op to play 8-player football.

In other action, the board:

—Approved new contracts with the district’s three unions. The 18-month agreements run through the end of the next school year, Powell said, and include a 1% raise for teachers, a 20-cents an hour raise for support staff, and step increases for the rest of the year and next year. Powell said the unions have already ratified the contracts.

—Found Powell to be “highly effective” in his annual evaluation.

—Passed a resolution recognizing board member Steve Thomas for his time on the board and his contribution to the district. Thomas, whose term expires at the end of the year, joined the board in July 2004.

—Passed a budget amendment approving various changes to the district’s revenues and expenses. The district expects to have a fund balance of $133,518 at the end of the year, according to Powell, up from the audited amount of $87,996 at the end of last year.

—Approved a shared program agreement with the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District to operate the district’s Great Start Readiness Program.

—Hired the Michigan Association of School Boards to help the district develop its strategic plan. The process is expected to take three to four months, according to the MASB’s proposal, and will cost $6,300 and expenses.

—Set the board’s organizational meeting for Jan. 18 at 5 p.m.

—Recognized second-grader Makenna LaBeske, fourth-grader Quincy Sheffler, seventh-grader Ginger Holst and freshman Ava Gouine as the district’s citizens of the month of November. The month’s character trait was honesty.

—Approved the monthly personnel report.

—Passed the district’s annual tax resolution.

—Reconfirmed the district’s COVID-19 extended learning plan, which the board approves every month.

—Approved the second reading and adoption of a variety of recommended policy changes covering everything from threatening behavior towards staff members to Title IX regulations.