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WHS considers new, bigger athletic conference

WORTHINGTON -- Worthington High School's athletics teams may soon be competing in a new conference.

Although talks are preliminary, District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard said during his report at Tuesday's school board meeting that discussions are under way to join two conferences together to form one.

"We are a long way off," Landgaard said. "The discussions are there for the potential to join conferences."

The Trojans currently compete in the Southwest Conference, but talks have begun to join the SWC with the South Central Conference.

"We had those discussions and put something together called the Southern Alliance before," Landgaard said. "Basically, we are coming back to the table because we are all struggling in different ways with activities.

"We're going to have discussions and eventually come to the boards to consider trying to create a new conference. What's really the primary driver of this is football, but there is also hockey and a couple other sports this could be beneficial for."

With Marshall's departure, the Southwest Conference will be left with six football schools.

"Football is a driving factor because some of these schools are driving four hours to play football games at least once, if not twice, during the season," Landgaard said.

The South Central Conference is composed of schools to the east and north of most SWC schools.

"The schools that are in the South Central currently are New Ulm, St. James, Waseca, Fairmont, Blue Earth and St. Peter," Landgaard explained. "There are a number of discussions and a resolution that will come next month, and we'll take a look at approving as that's the direction."

While it's not official yet, there have been issues already worked out.

"Everybody in the room was very much in consensus that this is a good approach -- not only for our conferences, but for our kids," Landgaard said. "Ultimately, if you choose as a school not to be involved, you're probably going to be left out in the cold and end up being independent."

With Worthington's geographic location, finding another conference would be difficult.

"If we end up not jumping into that conference, we'll sit down here very isolated. It's going to be extremely hard for us to find a conference to join," Landgaard said. "At this point it would be 13 members, and there's nothing to say we couldn't ask school districts to ask so we could become even larger."

Landgaard said a new conference could be in place as soon as the 2014-15 school year.

In other news, the school board approved a contract with architect SEH Inc. for architectural work to add security to Prairie Elementary.

"They will have to pass through the office and there will be a door they get buzzed in so we can control the entrance a little bit," Director of Management Services Dave Skog said. "They are estimating it to be around $21,000-22,000.

"This is our third different option, and I think this is the one everybody agreed to go with," Skog continued. "We had budgeted $70,000 not knowing what we were up against. We found a little simpler solution."

The board approved the iPad lease agreement with Apple Inc. The lease is three years at an annual cost of $173,470.70. It will cover the first purchase of the student learning devices, which number approximately 1,450.

The board agreed to declare old math curriculum as surplus property. Landgaard is hopeful the materials can be donated.

It also agreed to an email archiving service agreement with the SW/WC Service Cooperative for staff accounts. It will cost $5,100 per year.

At the beginning of the meeting, the board recognized teachers who received tenure: Carrie Adams, Julie Ailts, Diane Andersen, Kimberly Anderson, Corey Barf-knecht, Kathrine Behnke, Rachel Bell, Joel Evans, Tricia Feldman, Janet Haren, Micaela Massey, Lindsey McGraw, Randi Mimick, Deborah Mitchell, Lori Mulder, Lisa Spieker, Kathryn Stafford and Kelli Straley.

Daily Globe Community Content Coordinator Aaron Hagen may be reached at 376-7323.