McPherson Middle School has again been denied acceptance into the Pioneer League.
MMS activities director Brandon Simmelink informed the USD 418 Board of Education Monday McPherson did not receive the two-thirds vote to join the league for the 2013-2014 school year, and no appeals process is available. This means no additional seventh-grade sports will be added, and those already in place will struggle to find a full schedule.
McPherson has attempted to join the league for many years. There are not enough schools within the current consortium, including schools such as Great Bend and Hays, to maintain a full middle school schedule. League affiliations also make scheduling meets outside of this group difficult, with concerns rising of lost instructional time due to driving.
In order to be considered for the league, the district would have to expand its activities by adding seventh-grade football, volleyball, basketball for boys and girls, and cross country for seventh and eighth grades. USD 418 currently offers seventh-grade wrestling, track, tennis, band, choir, orchestra and STUCO.
The Pioneer League is desirable because member schools, such as Buhler and Newton, are closer. Seventh graders also would have more competition in a number of music and academic opportunities.
Simmelink also said entrance would allow some continuity for students, who will eventually be playing against those same students in high school.
Without entrance into the Pioneer League, MMS administrators will continue to work out athletic schedules as before, but also will look into developing an agreement with superintendents within the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League.
“Our plan is to provide the best opportunities for our students with what we have, and in the meantime, work to create the opportunities for the following school year,” Simmelink said. “We’re trying to find the balance that works best for our middle school students. It’s a little frustrating we didn’t get in, but we have great kids and a great community and our goal is to provide what we can. Hopefully we’ll be able to provide more in the future.”
Five other schools also applied to the Pioneer League and were denied entry.
In other news, the board approved the purchase of five new packages from PLATO Learning Electives Library for the McPherson Alternative Center. The packages will allow students to have access to 24 online elective classes, including veterinary science and forensic science.
The board also agreed to host this year's Destination Imagination tournament in McPherson on April 13, 2013. The event encourages problem solving and creativity in students.