Sunday, March 24, 2013

NIC expands to 11

The North Iowa Conference (NIC) has been undergoing some changes lately.  Since adding North Union and Algona Bishop Garrigan as members recently, other districts have inquired, requested to join, and/or met with various members of the NIC.  During that process, one district had some very in-depth and obviously emotional discussions in their community.  Eagle Grove, a district on the  southwestern edge of the NIC, voted 3-2 at the board of education to leave the North Central Conference (NCC) starting in the fall of the 2014-2015 school year.

As one would expect, it is not easy to leave a conference such as the NCC with their strong history of success and doing good things for students.  There is also a prestige that is held in the NCC as a perennial power, and with that comes a bit of swagger and pride that is relinquished.  When Bishop Garrigan opted to leave the NCC and join the NIC, it was based on competitiveness, location, and a generally shared belief across the stakeholders that it was a good move.  For North Union, the simple fact was their conference (the Cornbelt) was shrinking due to mergers to a point of disbanding.  With Eagle Grove, the ties appear to still be very strong with the NCC and making that determination was a little more difficult.

The belief that Eagle Grove has a more level playing field is one I personally share, but not all do.  Over time, it truly is my belief that you will find like sized schools will be more competitive than those with differing populations.  In short, they fit into the general size of the NIC better than the NCC.  In conversations with their leadership and even some of the community, it is apparent that Eagle Grove is also looking to expand and support areas such as the performing arts, fine arts, academic competitions, and other non-athletic opportunities for students.  That belief also indicates a very good fit into the NIC.  As for travel, Eagle Grove leaves the generally central position of the NCC to a clearly disadvantaged location in the NIC.  Given the distance of travel between the larger schools and communities of the NCC, the change is not as dramatic as I had expected.

Ultimately the community came together, had the conversations, and made a decision.  Either way, it would have been my pleasure to support what they determined to be best for Eagle Grove.  As a lot is still remaining to be changed, I wish Eagle Grove, North Union, and Bishop Garrigan the best of transitions.  I hope you like it here.  Welcome to the NIC.  

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