Oct. 30, 2006

LP school board postpones decision on pairing all sports

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

Although a decision by the Lester Prairie School Board on pairing all of its sports with Holy Trinity School in Winsted was to be made at its Wednesday night meeting, the final decision has been postponed.

Another meeting has been set for Monday, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. in the Lester Prairie School Media Center.

The more than 80 people in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting, asked for additional information to be gathered from Holy Trinity by the school board and a more publicized date for the next meeting on pairing. Some felt that there was not enough effort made by the school to let everyone know about this first meeting.

Superintendent Joe Miller opened the meeting by clarifying the importance of providing as many opportunities for students as possible and having students able to play at age appropriate levels.

School Board Chairman Fred Blaser addressed those attending telling them that he and Miller had weighed their options, and felt they would like to move ahead with the pairing of all sports with Holy Trinity, and asked for their comments.

There were some comments suggesting the idea of pairing was a good one.

Gene Starke, Lester Prairie softball coach, explained that he has been playing eighth grade girls on the varsity team for four of the five years he has been coaching softball.

Wayne Hasz, junior high basketball coach, said that right now, he only has one eighth grade student going out for basketball.

Secondary Principal and Athletic Director Ron Erpenbach pointed out how well the pairing with track and cross country has been going with Holy Trinity.

He added the shortage of students in certain grade levels was causing difficulty in scheduling games.

Erpenbach told how there are certain schools that won’t play with Lester Prairie because he is unable to guarantee a seventh, eighth, and freshmen team. The only schools that are willing to play with Lester Prairie are Buffalo Lake-Hector and McLeod West.

When Erpenbach was asked about what the Minnesota State High School League and Lester Prairie’s current conference would do about the pairing, he was not certain. He thought they might not like it, but probably would still allow them to remain in the conference.

Erpenbach felt that there would not be a significant cost increase resulting from the pairing.

The majority of those attending seemed to be in favor of not pairing all sports. They asked for alternatives.

Board Member Jeff Hecksel said the alternative is not playing sports at all for certain grade levels and for specific sports, mentioning wrestling.

A suggestion was made to only pair individual sports where students are needed, and by grade levels. Parents did not want to see their children sitting on the bench when students were added to classes that did have enough numbers to play at their grade level.

It was then pointed out that the student numbers are not there anymore, and the school will be losing 15 more seniors than will be coming in next year. There is a six-year stretch with low class sizes in the high school.

In addition to gathering information from Holy Trinity and doing a better job of publicizing the next meeting, it was the general consensus of those present, that a survey of parents and students might be helpful.

Included in the survey, the school is to ask why so many students do not participate in sports and what can be done to make sports more appealing to those students.

Some of the students present were asked what they thought of the shortage of students in sports and they said it was an asset to them because playing with the older grades has improved their skills in their sport.

Miller felt that the decision regarding pairing should be made by the school board and adults, just like all aspects of school life. The school bases its conclusions on what is in the best interest of the students.

Holy Trinity School Athletic Director Judy Ide was contacted to find out the results of its recent Holy Trinity meeting on pairing.

According to Ide, Holy Trinity’s meeting was very similar to Lester Prairie’s. Parents raised a number of good questions and voiced concerns also.

As far as pairing with Lester Prairie in all sports, Holy Trinity has a core group that will make the final decision and they are waiting to see what the results of Lester Prairie’s meeting is on Nov. 6.

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