HALSTAD, Minn.-There is a chance Norman County West High School of Halstad, Minn., will be without girls basketball, boys basketball, football or volleyball next season, as the athletic department awaits a decision on what will become of the district.
"Our school board is in the middle of deciding on what they will be doing in a long-term direction," NCW athletic director Nate Albrecht said. "There's some questions in the community about how long we will be a school district or if we should move toward consolidation of school districts with Ada-Borup."
The NCW School Board has listed three options for the future. The choices are: 1) Keep the elementary and high school in two separate buildings. 2) Build an addition on one location and have one campus or 3) Consolidate with Ada-Borup.
The problem with separate buildings is the cost to maintain two facilities six miles apart is $1.2 million annually. This option would cost the owner of a home valued at $100,000 an additional $765.26 over the current $415.87. This could lead to programs and staff being cut.
If the schools were to combine, most likely in Hendrum, Minn., staff would most likely be cut, as would gym space. Updates to the existing building would run from between $6-9 million. If the district decides for a bigger project, in which the current building is demolished and rebuilt, that could cost around $20 million.
The main drawback with consolidating with Ada-Borup is the loss of identity of NCW and the loss of two buildings in Halstad and Hendrum. The average homeowner will likely see their taxes decline nearly 33 percent if the choice becomes to consolidate with Ada-Borup.
The options have been out there for nine months, but no decision has been made.
"I'm not sure when that will be made," Norman County West Superintendent Dr. Shawn Yates said. "Honestly, I wish it would have been a long time ago. We're not at that point yet."
Where athletic programs come into play stem from the option to consolidate with Ada-Borup. If it's decided to consolidate with Ada-Borup and a parent does not want its child to go to Ada-Borup, transferring will cost the athlete a year of eligibility.
"We have parents, especially those of ninth-graders, where if we consolidate they don't want their kids to lose their junior or senior years of eligibility, so they are having thoughts of transferring now and taking all their kids," Albrecht said.
Albrecht is projecting eight high school girls for volleyball. His estimation for 9-man football is 21 if students don't transfer, but that drops to 12 or 13 if the students he thinks may transfer do. For boys basketball the estimation is in the 20s without students transferring, and 13 or 14 if students transfer.
There are four girls basketball players currently in seventh and eighth grade for NCW.
As of now, NCW has no co-op for fall and winter sports. Albrecht said without a co-op, girls basketball, which was a co-op with Ada-Borup last season, and volleyball would not exist, and if athletes transfer, he wouldn't be comfortable fielding a football team of 12 or 13. He felt boys basketball should be OK, even if students transfer and no co-op is found.
NCW had requests to co-op with Ada-Borup and Northern Cass of eastern North Dakota for girls and boys basketball, volleyball and football rejected. Albrecht is still in discussion with Hillsboro-Central Valley, also in eastern North Dakota. He plans to re-word his proposal to Ada-Borup as possibly four separate proposals for each sport, rather than a request for all four.
"It's been a trying time," Albrecht said. "All of the ninth-graders, as of now, are still enrolled. I still have seasons and schedules put together and referees organized. Until I see kids are leaving, that's how it will be.
"The parents need to know if our long-term solution will stay in Norman County for the foreseeable future. We've been waiting for months."
The next school board meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, May 17, in Halstad.