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Chris Forde

The Silent e Blog by Chris Forde


The Oblong Unit Four School Board has some big decisions to make over the next few weeks. The Little Okaw Valley Conference extended invitations to five school districts, including Oblong for a proposed expansion starting in 2014.

The board has been seeking comments from the public to help them make the best decision possible. Oblong is currently one of the smallest schools in the Little Illini Conference and that's led to some lopsided losses in several sports. Coaches gave their input at a special board meeting and they feel that the change would give Oblong a better chance to compete because the school sizes are more on par with Oblong. Some athletes and parents also brought up the competition angle.

I don't think anyone really thinks that Oblong is going to suddenly be a dominant force in a different conference. Is it a gain if you go from a middle of the pack finish in one conference to the same finish in another? But, it might be better for the kids if their losses are closer than going somewhere and losing by a wide margin to a larger school that has a deeper pool of kids to draw from.

One of the concerns is about travel. Moving from the Little Illini Conference to the LOVC would add about 1578 miles to the travel schedule each year. That could cost as much as $2500 more in increased fuel and labor costs. Some sports would have to leave as early as 1:30 PM to get to games and they might not get home until 11:15 PM. The board has to decide if the missed class time and the late nights are worth it.

Some parents are also concerned if they will be able to make it to games. That's especially a concern for working parents with kids playing sports with afternoon start times.

Right now, it is hard to get a good read on where the school board stands. It all could be a moot point if one of the other four schools invited decides to stay where they are. The expansion is contingent on all five schools agreeing to come on board. The board also has to make a decision before seeing how the new LIC is going to look. Ultimately, the board's decision comes down to what is best for the kids.

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05/08/2012 8:53AM
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