During the Kingsland School Board meeting on September 21, one of the main topics was the Minnesota State High School League’s (MSHSL) sudden reversal of decision regarding football and volleyball seasons. In August, the MSHSL had announced that these two sports would be allowed to have a brief “fall practice” season, but that their competition seasons would be in the spring.
Athletic Director Mark Fitzpatrick informed the board, “For football and volleyball… their seasons both got approved today to go back to the fall. So, starting September 28, football can have six regular games beginning October 5, with practice starting September 28. And volleyball will begin an 11 week season starting September 28 too, with matches to start October 8. And there will be a two-week postseason for both sports.”
Superintendent Jim Hecimovich shared his frustration with the situation, stating, “I’m going to try to be kind… I’m extremely disappointed in the Minnesota State High School League. Not on their decision today, but I think it goes back to poor mode of communication, coming out with fee structures that hadn’t been thrown by anybody. I’ll give an example of one thing that angered me the most. They raised our fees; fine, I understand that. But then they have a COVID fee for their lost revenue because of COVID, and the way it’s currently structured is for the top tier (5A) schools, $11,000 is the fee being assessed. Us being an A school, $5,000. Just doing the math, Austin pays about $7.50 a head for ninth through 12th students. We’re paying over $33 a head.”
Hecimovich continues, “Second of all, their decision today, that’s great, I support sports. But you don’t go and make a decision in August, and change your mind now, and make us jump through the hoops of scheduling games. We’ve already gotten rid of our refs, there are not enough out there. Number two, how are we going to pay for the transportation? We have a set budget.” He explained that because of social distancing guidelines, schools will need many more busses to transport teams to and from competitions.
“I’m not going to steal from Peter to pay Paul,” Hecimovich went on, “I can’t take this out of our education.” Jackie Horsman agreed, saying she can see both sides of the issue, but, “As a board member, I’m very disappointed in MSHSL for not being transparent.” Regarding the COVID fee structure, Hecimovich quipped, “So, I don’t know what financial wizard up at MSHSL came up with this structure, but apparently they had too many concussions when they were playing football in high school!”
Fitzpatrick stated that each football game will be allowed to issue up to 250 tickets. He said he’s been working on a fair allocation that would allow some tickets for the visiting team, but the majority to be available to home team families of the student-athletes and coaching staff. He also pointed out that the team and coaches themselves do not count toward the 250 limit on spectators.
Principal Klavetter shared that Kingsland has installed wireless outdoor access points to provide free Wi-Fi internet access to students and the community. He stated, “You can get a great internet signal now all the way to the other end of the football field, and all the way down to the baseball field.”
Regarding traffic safety concerns related to County Road 1, Hecimovich stated, “Our traffic-calming sign arrived, so now we’ll be working with Ron Gregg to get that installed. The county will be installing that, so that’s great news.” Horsman also shared that MnDOT is working to determine the best way to enhance safety at the intersection of Highways 16, 63, and 1 in Spring Valley. She said MnDOT is currently trying to decide whether to put in a four-way stop, or a roundabout, or flashing signs. She also voiced appreciation to the Spring Valley City Council for being “relentless” in pursuing action to make that intersection safer.
Fitzpatrick shared that Aaron Thauwald was hired as assistant coach for cross country. Also, he said the team has five scheduled meets, including a home meet on Thursday, October 1. The board gave public thanks to Linda Wangsness ($500 donation to Kingsland Elementary) and Faith United Methodist Church (for free usage of the facility by SACC).
The Kingsland board’s next meeting will be a work session on October 5, at 6 p.m.