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District 518 committees consider cooperative athletic agreements

WORTHINGTON — Independent School District 518 will soon begin interviewing a pool of Area Learning Center principal candidates.

Superintendent John Landgaard told Monday’s board of education instructional committee members that there are currently three in-district candidates.

“There’s one candidate in the pool that has experience with the ALC and a principal position,” he said. “I think we have good candidates to interview, and hopefully we find a candidate that meets our needs.”

The position vacancy was created after current ALC Principal Barry Fischer resigned to take on a new position in Carlton. Landgaard said the final day for Fischer — who served one year as ALC principal — is tentatively set for Friday.

The instructional committee also considered athletic cooperative agreements between area schools. The discussion came after Fulda Public Schools requested a cooperative agreement for girls hockey. Although nearly split in its opinion, the instruction committee will recommend full board approval.

Monday’s lengthy discussion included participation numbers and fairness. Landgaard said Worthington’s girls hockey program currently has strong participation numbers, and that the cooperative would likely only add one to two players.

The cooperative agreements are becoming frustrating, he added.

“The frustrating piece is that our neighboring schools are picking and choosing which schools they want to (athletically) be a part of,” he said. “If you have a program that is up and coming or strong, some of these cooperative agreements become frustrating.”

He added that Fulda recently opted to combine the majority of their athletics with Heron Lake-Okabena, a decision he said was made without much — if any — consideration toward Worthington.

“Not that I didn’t try,” he said.

Heron Lake-Okabena and Fulda do not offer hockey programs.

Board Vice President Scott Rosenberg did not support the agreement.

“I’d like to see our slots that are available (be) available to our students that are actual students here in our district,” he said. “It would be a different can of worms to me if we were struggling to field a program. There’s an option of open enrollment, if it’s that important for the kid to be in that sport.”

Board Chair Lori Dudley said the district should strive to approach cooperative agreements consistently. The district should either allow cooperative agreements for all programs from requesting neighboring districts or none at all, she said.

Board member Linden Olson said the district should honor the agreements with neighboring districts whenever possible, as Worthington is seen as an area hub.

“I don’t think we’ve got so many kids in that program that one more would be a big difference,” he said.

In another matter, the instruction and operations committees continued to ponder a permanent name for the ALC currently under construction.

The idea of having one name for the building and other signage within designating different names for the educational wing and the gymnastics wing was suggested. Naming the district’s facilities on the west end of town similar to that of college campuses with marquees was also considered.

The full board will continue to discuss naming options during its 5:15 p.m. July 17 regular board of education meeting at the Worthington High School Media Center.

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