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AASD approves swimming co-op with Sayre

ATHENS — The Athens Area School District board of education on Tuesday approved a cooperative sports sponsorship between Athens and the Sayre Area School District for the 2021-22 swimming season.

The co-op was approved by the Sayre school board in October with all members except Erin Wayman voting in favor. Athens passed the co-op in a similar fashion, with all voting yes except for vice president Kathy Jo Minnick.

Before the vote board member John Cheresnowsky noted that “it was the recommendation of the athletic committee to approve the co-op.”

Board member Chris Jones inquired as to how many swimmers would be joining Athens from Sayre, and Superintendent Craig Stage said “possibly less than five, no more than 10.”

“It’s (a matter of) what’s signed up versus what actually show up,” Stage continued.

Board member Natalie Smart asked if the swimming facilities of both districts would be utilized, or if it would all fall on Athens.

“I think this will be entirely on us,” replied Stage. “Being so few of their students participating, we would have to transport our students over there and we have a pretty healthy swimming team — both boys and girls — so it makes a lot more sense for us to keep it in our facility in my opinion.”

Minnick then added her comment to the record, saying that “this is again another Band-Aid provided by Athens to Sayre, and it’s not really solving any of their problems in the future as far as their sports teams.”

During the visitor comment section of the meeting, the board received a small outpouring of appreciation from Brady Liechty and Matt Patton, two residents who are also parents and teachers in the district.

“I just wanted to extend my thank you to all you board members,” said Liechty, who teaches business at Athens High School. “I know that none of you signed up to deal and manage and think through everything you have had to manage over the last year and a half.”

“I just wanted to offer my appreciation,” Liechty continued. “Thanks for your time, because it’s way more than just here; it’s a lot at home, emails, phone calls, time away from your paid job and your careers and your families.”

Patton, who teaches science at Athens High School, followed and told the board that he’s “impressed with the work that (they have) done.”

“I’m impressed, frankly, with the amount of abuse that you have taken, and you have handled it with class, with dignity, and with grace,” Patton continued. “Thank you for that.”

Stage saved his superintendent report for the end of the meeting, at which point he also offered a few words of appreciation to the outgoing board members whose terms will end on Nov. 30.

“To the board members that are leaving — Mr. Westbrook and Mr. Johnson — I just want to send a thank you for your service,” Stage said. “Thank you for your years, thank you for your dedication, thank you for your selfless giving of your time, your energy, and your mind. I appreciate you.”

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