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WAVERLY - Franklin and Waverly high schools' sports teams will play under a new, unified mascot beginning with the 2015-16 school year.
The Waverly School Board voted for the second time Wednesday to pass a sports co-op agreement with Franklin High School. It was a unanimous decision.
The board questioned whether Franklin's initial hesitation could cause issues when the time comes to renew the agreement in two years. Franklin had voted down the measure once before approving it in June. Waverly athletic director Shane Gray said that, while that could be a concern, he didn't think it would be likely for Franklin to opt out after two years.
"I don't think they'll take it away," Gray said. "I think it would be too detrimental for both of us. ... With any co-op we've ever entered, once you go down that road, there's no coming out of it."
Waverly approved the agreement after reviewing changes to academic eligibility, game sharing and school colors. The board showed minimal hesitation to the agreement. There were no community members in the attendance to hear the final decision.
"I think there's a lot of positive people here. ... We've seen little to no resistance here," Gray said.
The combined team's colors will include black and orange, and the new mascot will be determined during the coming school year.
Waverly first agreed to the co-op in a unanimous vote in January, but Franklin voted the measure down in 4-3 vote.
The two districts rewrote the terms of the agreement including a 60-40 game split in Franklin's favor, switching the fiscal agent to Franklin and matching the schools' academic eligibility policies. Franklin narrowly passed the adjusted agreement in late June with a 4-3 vote.
Some community members have spoken out against the co-op.
Gray said he believes most of the opposition has come from sentimental alumni who played sports as Scotties or Flashes decades ago. More than 70 people attended the meeting in June when the Franklin School Board approved the agreement.
The agreement unites the two schools in all sports and under a single mascot. The districts have a long history of collaboration, but the schools have always held on to their individual traditions for boys basketball and cheerleading. This sports season will be the last students play as the Franklin Flashes and the Waverly Scotties at the high school level.
Both school districts intend to preserve the Scotties and the Flashes mascots at the junior high level, and neither high school has immediate plans for redecorating. Franklin School Superintendent Andy Stremlau has said the Flashes logo will remain on the school's bleachers despite the switch.
Gray also said the coaches, administrators and athletic directors directly involved with the situation have shown notable support. Each district serves a little more than 100 students, and, despite public opposition, leaders believe collaboration is essential to the success of both sports programs.
"All the people in surrounding towns that you talk to are like, 'This is a no-brainer,' " Gray said. "I think we're pretty solid, but the first year might be a little rough."
Contact Maggie Menderski: 788-1526, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/MaggieSJR.