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New Glarus gives co-ops green light
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MONROE - The New Glarus school board approved a co-op agreement for girls swimming and boys hockey with Monroe for the 2014-15 school year.

The board voted unanimously to approve the two co-ops Monday, Sept. 9.

"We want to do everything we can for kids within the constraints of our budget," New Glarus Superintendent Jennifer Thayer said. "This is just the first step."

The district polled students, and Thayer said the trend through 2018 showed there were eight to 15 students per year interested in swimming and four to five interested in boys hockey.

Thayer said the board made the decision to push for a co-op since last year when the two districts considered the option.

The board supported the co-op based on the student surveys and the district's mantra of always increasing opportunities for students, Thayer said.

Monroe Athletic Director Dave Hirsbrunner in a Finance Committee meeting Monday said there is a chance if the schools formed a co-op for swimming they may have to swim Division 1 for sectionals based on a combined enrollment of a little more than 1,000. Monroe had the swimming co-op on the finance committee agenda for discussion, but wanted to wait until the New Glarus school board took up the issue first. If the two schools unite for swimming both school boards would have to approve the co-op agreement, the Badger Conference would have to approve the co-op and the WIAA would have to approve the plan.

"(A co-op) won't hurt us in any way," Hirsbrunner said. "It will only help. It would allow us to compete in our dual meets."

WIAA deputy director Wade Labecki said the smallest Division 1 girls swimming team this year is Thomas Moore-St. Francis with an enrollment of 1,021 and the largest Division 2 team is Ashwaubenon (1,019).

"We take the largest 60 percent of schools and they are Division 1 and the other 40 percent are Division 2," Labecki said.

Monroe swimming coach Linda Moser wasn't at either meeting, but when contacted, she supported the potential co-op with New Glarus.

Moser said administrators discussed the co-op last year and her only concern was to ensure the co-op would stay in Division 2 and not get bumped to Division 1.

"It opens the doors for the girls from New Glarus who should have the opportunity to swim," Moser said. "It will be great to give them a chance."

It's not a new concept for Monroe and New Glarus to swim together. In the Green County YMCA Golden Gators swim team, swimmers from Monroe, New Glarus and Monticello compete on the same team. Numbers for the Monroe girls swimming team have dwindled in recent years. The Cheesemakers have the smallest team in the Badger South Conference with just 14 swimmers that started the year. The Cheesemakers are in a loaded conference with perennial swimming powers Milton and Stoughton.

"It will be great," Moser said. "It can only make us stronger."