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School Board Hears Survey Results Of Conference Realignment

And the Survey Says…

February 26, 2013
Kelsey Buck , Emmetsburg News

Conversations regarding conference realignment were revisited at the Emmetsburg School Board meeting Wednesday even-ing. Athletic Director, Joe Carter, discussed meetings with superintendents and athletic directors from the North Iowa and North Central conferences. "I had some good discussions with those people and what their visions were," he said.

Carter then coupled that information with data compiled from surveys administered regarding realign- ment. "We needed to gather some data from our people on what everyone feels. We surveyed our students. We surveyed our coaches. We surveyed all the parents in the district and then we also provided another survey intended for non-parents and community members," said Carter.

A total of 347 people responded. The majority of questions produced fairly divided results. Carter highlighted a few things that stood out. When asked, "Do you feel the Lakes Conference is a good fit for Emmetsburg," the results were 50/50 among all groups except the senior class. Of those seniors, 77% agreed with the statement.

"Of our high school, those are the ones that know best. They're the ones that have been here the longest," said Carter. Approximately 90% of seniors as well as a large portion of all others surveyed felt the Lakes Conference provided a good opportunity for the students. Seniors responded with 80% in favor of the statement, "Emmetsburg should stay in the Lakes Conference," but everyone else ranged in the 40-50 percentile. In short, "There are some people who think yes. There are some people who think no," stated Carter.

Board member, Tammy Naig, asked, "Where are we going with all this? We compiled all this data. We've brought our coaches in here and talked. Are we just going to brush it away and let it go now? Where do we go from here?"

Superintendent, John Joynt, summarized the two current options, "We have not had any conclusive talks with the North Central conference. They are talking to us and two other schools. North Iowa might be a little more attractive if they split it east and west but there's no guarantee they will do that."

"Of the data we've got, I don't feel there is a problem to fix yet," said board member, Karla Anderson. "We've got the information in front of us that shows we feel we're about 50/50 on most of the stuff. Do you make a major change when you're 50/50?"

Board member, Rick Brennan, added, "I personally feel we stay right where we are and as the opportunity presents itself down the road, we contact whomever it may be. I'd be really cautious to jump out of something and have the door close behind us."

Carter recommended not relying solely on the survey data, as there are many factors involved. "I know this is just one piece that I would certainly use in a recommendation that I would give. This data proved some things to me. Our kids, our coaches, our parents and our community do not believe the conference is bad for participation," said Carter.

"I think we have to ask ourselves the question, do we honestly think that changing conferences is going to change the mindset of our athletes?" said Anderson. "I think the mindset is set in lower levels and brought up. We've seen 20 or 30 girls in a lower level program and then when they get to high school, there are two. I'm not thinking that's a conference problem. It's a program problem. I'm not saying anything bad about our coaches. I think if we can get a little enthusiasm in our programs, we can keep those 20 girls out."

Carter added, "When those wins don't come, it's not because of our conference. It's because of where we are and where our program is. I would say with girls' basketball, we have one senior out. That's our issue." Anderson agreed, "No matter where you go, you're going to have losses if you don't have participation."

"To say we will compete in every sport, in every grade, will not happen," stated Carter. "That's why we shouldn't make any decisions off of wins and losses. What we do within our programs and the expectations we have of our kids will change with time but changing who we have as an opponent will not change those things."

President, B.J. Schany concluded, " I don't think we have a unique situation. I think if you talk to other schools, they have the exact same problem. I think we're moving in the right step. I'm not ready to say we need to get out of the Lakes Conference. I don't want to kill it by any means. I know Joe and John have done a lot of work but I'm kind of in agreement. I don't see anything right now that, one, says we have a better place to go and two, that we need to exit right away. I guess I'd like to leave it as an open topic and maybe reevaluate next month."



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