Editor’s note: This article has been updated to correct the last year the West Central Conference will exist and to clarify other points regarding the effects of playing independently.
Smith-Cotton High School athletic teams might not be part of an athletic conference beginning in the 2018-19 school year, Smith Cotton’s Athletic Director Rob Davis told the Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education at Monday’s work session.
The West Central Conference will be left with only three schools in 2018-19 since four of the other schools will be joining other athletic conferences that are geographically closer, Davis told the board. Out of the seven districts in the conference, Nevada, Warrensburg, St. Pius and Clinton will be leaving in the 2019-20 school year. Smith-Cotton, Central in Kansas City and Archbishop O’Hara high schools would remain would remain in the WCC.
Davis said Smith-Cotton will have to play independently, as it is the district’s only option. This would mean playing other non-conference teams in all sports. Not being in a conference will not affect Smith-Cotton’s participation in district, sectional or state competitions, but it will mean not being able to compete for conference titles and athletes will not receive all-conference recognition.
“That is what we’d lose,” Davis said.
Davis said Sedalia 200 has looked into joining other conferences in Springfield and around Jefferson City and Columbia, but their athletic conferences were satisfied with their current memberships. Davis said he also explored inviting other schools into the WCC, but those schools lacked interest. No decision was made Monday since the meeting was a work session. This issue will be revisited by the board.
The board was also presented an update on the Connecting the Prairie to the Ivy student trip scheduled for Feb. 20-23. The students going on the trip include sophomores, juniors and one senior and they will be touring three Ivy League universities — Dartmouth, Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The idea behind this privately-funded trip is to expose students to schools other than the Midwest.
Finally, the board heard a legislative update. Superintendent Brad Pollitt warned that the district’s transportation costs would be cut by about $130,000 this year due to Gov. Eric Greitens slashing $146 million from state coffers. These cuts did spare most K-12 schools and impacted colleges and universities much more.
“We can make it through these cuts,” Pollitt said.
He warned that with the new administration, charter schools and voucher systems could be imposed on school districts, but that remains uncertain.
Reach Tim Epperson at 660-530-0146