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July 13, 2020

Hinsdale School Board Votes Unanimously Against Creede Sports Cooperative.


Thursday evening, October 12, Hinsdale County School Board received the ninth installment of the carefully negotiated basketball cooperative agreement with Creede School District. With a full complement of board members, Rob Hudgeons, Elizabeth Stuntz, Bill Reinhardt, Tara Hardy and himself, in attendance, Hinsdale School Board President Phil Virden noted this was the first opportunity the entire board had to meet and fully discuss the issue.
Virden continued by stating that there had been ample time for athletes, parents and staff to give their opinion and no further public comment would be heard by the school board.
Following heartfelt insight on the matter from each board member, Hudgeons made a motion not to sign or continue the agreement with Creede. Board member Reinhardt seconded the motion and the matter was carried with a unanimous vote.
The no vote on the CO-OP gives student athletes the freedom to participate with the Creede athletic program or other districts, as free agents should they choose to do so. While not a focused topic of discussion at last week’s meeting, it was inferred that a Lake City Community School recreation program is in the works to begin building a homegrown team.
During her opening remarks summarizing several of the recent meetings with Creede, Dr. Leslie Nichols noted that the middle school program with the cooperative agreement had “always ridden on the coat-tails of the high school program.”
As the negotiations moved forward to reach a consensus agreement between the two districts, Creede’s Dr. John Howard recently informed Nichols that middle school athletes were welcome to participate in the program but that this program would be “run separately” and not included in the formalized Co-Op. This seemed a significant flag to administration and board members that any agreement was not a long-term plan for the Creede Miner’s administrators and coaches.
Hudgeons stated, “While I appreciate all the time that both the superintendents put into these meetings, there are other details we need to take into account. If we put ourselves back into this agreement we are locked in. I am more in favor of choice.”
He added, “With Dr. Howard saying he doesn’t want to continue the middle school program; that tells me they don’t want to continue as the middle school teams are the building blocks going forward. I believe this should be up to the parents and the kids.”
School director Bill Reinhardt agreed with Hudgeons’ assessment. ” I think that we need to be working on an instructional recreation league of some kind which allows free choice for the kids but also allows us to build a core group to have our own team in the future.”
Reinhardt concluded,”It is too late. There has been too much dissension and I think we need to free our kids up and encore these options.”
Tara Hardy had prepared a written statement noting she had shifted her original feelings of staying with the Co-Op at any cost. “With all these events, I’ve changed my opinion. We’ve proved we are adults and that we can sit down and work out these details face to face. However, I feel this agreement will lock us in. Are we offering the best opportunities to our kids?”
Clearly emotional, Hardy read on, “I would like our district to take a step back and say let us take a look at our values and what is best for us. This is a healthy and natural step we have reached for our kids and community… It is not a board decision to say what an athletic program will look like. But, it is a board decision to say we will get there.”
She took time to honor the history with the Creede team and community but stated, “It isn’t about me, it is about what is best for the kids.” Adding it would take time to reestablish trust, and heal following weeks of unrest she added, “I stand firm in my decision to not continue in this Co-Op agreement.”
Board member Elizabeth Stuntz who was under the weather, kept her remarks brief. “I love Creede and I love the kids, but I agree with Tara. If I had thought to write something out, it would have been very similar.”
Dr. Nichols, in response to board questioning, definitively affirmed that without a signed Co-Op, Lake City athletes have the freedom to play on a local team or with other district teams, an option unavailable if the Co-Op continued. Nichols emphasized that heartening signs of friendly relations with Creede are continuing with invitational plans for homecoming dances and prom plans between the two schools.
“We had a great knowledge bowl competition with them just today. I feel sure that our relationship and the friendships existing between us can continue.”
As discussion wound down, Virden stated, “I like the idea of choice. As a middle school coach, I think this gives us the ability to re-set and I would like to be involved in that program. The past Co-Op has been good, but it is time to begin our own program.”
“I think it is time to move on and establish our own program,” board member Hudgeons agreed. He then put forth the motion to not approve or carry on with the Creede Co-Op which was quickly seconded and passed unanimously by the entire board.
Phil Virden, addressing Creede’s Coach Bob Koats, asked,”Please convey to the coaches, team and administration how much our community has appreciated the past relationship.”

Seated left to right: LCCS Administrative Aid Shawn Arthur, Hinsdale Superintendent Leslie Nichols, Hinsdale School Board Directors Tara Hardy and Rob Hudgeons, Hinsdale School Board President Phil Virden, Mineral County School Board President John Howard, Mineral School Board Members Damon Gibbons, Melanie Freedle, Mark Tiley, Eryn Wintz, and Mineral Superintendent Lis Richards.

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