The McPherson USD 418 Board of Education discussed adding seventh-grade sports Monday, despite voting against the change earlier this year.
The McPherson USD 418 Board of Education discussed adding seventh-grade sports Monday, despite voting against the change earlier this year. The board agreed previously not to add seventh-grade sports unless the district gained admittance into the Pioneer League. After being denied in October, however, the idea of adding football, volleyball, basketball, and cross country was abandoned. The discussion was brought up again because four schools in McPherson's current consortium — Hays, Great Bend and two Salina schools — are adding seventh-grade sports. Because McPherson has no seventh-grade teams, the schools will likely no longer choose to play McPherson in their eighth-grade sports. This will allow the McPherson teams little or no one to fill their eighth-grade schedules. These schools added these sports because, like McPherson, they were denied admittance into the Pioneer League and were faced with a similar problem. Brandon Simmelink, McPherson Middle School assistant principal, said if McPherson added the sports as the other schools have, they would avoid more severe scheduling problems. The school plans to continue to apply for admittance every year, but until this ideal situation is possible, he said adding seventh-grade sports would be the best option in the short term. “I think that long term we want to get to the group of middle schoolers that would mirror our Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League on the high school side,” Simmelink said, referring to the high school's current league. This would allow the same students to play each other as they advance in school. “But until we gain access to that league, I think that is the best path for us to take.” The addition of seventh-grade sports would include about $21,000 in coaching salaries and more than $11,000 in equipment needs.