Conference merger on District 88 Board agenda

NEW ULM – The District 88 Board of Education today will vote on a draft resolution to authorize the superintendent to formally withdraw New Ulm Public Schools from membership in the South Central Conference effective at the end of the 2013-14 school year.

The resolution would also authorize the superintendent to formally join The Big South Conference effective at the start of the 2014-15 school year.

The Big South Conference is the name that would be given to a high school league comprising schools now in the Southwest and South Central conferences.

The merger would increase the number of schools to 13, instead of six, as is the current number in the South Central Conference, according to Superintendent Jeff Bertrang.

“Having a stable conference means that schools can schedule activities for all levels of programs, in all the sports with the conference schools,” he said. “Working off of a common schedule will mean continuity of programs, known travel costs and planned schedules. Not having a conference would mean that the school would need to contact many schools for every sport, at all levels, to find games/events. This would happen each year, and there would not be any consistent schedule, playing time or anticipated costs for every program.”

New Ulm Public Schools have “an ongoing need to ensure a stable and predictable scheduling process for extra-curricular and co-curricular activities,” the draft resolution states, explaining the need for the change. The district has “an interest in promoting the development of life-long skills in areas such as team work, goal setting, communications and personal self-development,” states the draft. “Working in collaboration with other schools,” the district “seeks to provide a regionally competitive environment for middle school, junior varsity, and high school co-curricular and extra-curricular activities by promoting opportunities, cost efficiency, and equitable competition options; and through regional collaboration, understands that additional opportunities may be realized among regionally partnering schools,” the draft adds.

Four of the South Central Conference school have voted unanimously to withdraw from the South Central Conference and join the new Big South Conference, adds Bertrang. Fairmont and Blue Earth voted last week, while St. Peter and St. James voted to do so just last Monday night. Waseca is scheduled to hold a vote on Thursday, the same night as New Ulm.

In related developments, an Activities Committee report to the School Board states that the 13 superintendents from Southwest and South Central Conference schools met Oct. 31 to discuss the merger. The schools agreed all JV issues would be resolved via an AD sub-committee.

The schools also discussed matters related to golf and softball. In golf, they agreed that most schools would prefer nine-holes play the first year, then receiving feedback from coaches. In softball, the schools agreed that they can decide on double headers or single games and game times as matters progress.

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