Heading west

By on May 28, 2009

Kaneland to join new western conference
by Lynn Meredith
Kaneland will join some of its traditional rivals and leave others behind when it becomes part of a new conference starting in the 2010-11 school year.

On Tuesday, the Kaneland School Board unanimously voted to leave the Western Sun Conference (WSC). In a 6-1 vote, it approved joining a newly formed conference that includes schools to the west and south.

DeKalb, Yorkville and Rochelle, schools similar in size to Kaneland, have already followed suit and voted to join the new conference, leaving the WSC non-existent.

“The Western Sun Conference as it is will no longer exist at the end of next school year,” Superintendent Charlie McCormick said. “The WSC will not continue as it is.”

If Kaneland had remained with its traditional rivals, Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles, it would have been the smaller school in the conference. In the new conference, Kaneland will play schools that comprise the North Central Illinois Conference Reagan Division. The new conference will include Sterling, Ottawa, Dixon, Geneseo, Morris, LaSalle-Peru and Streator, in addition to DeKalb, Sycamore and Rochelle.

School Board member Cheryl Krauspe voted against joining the new conference. She said she supports the athletic program, the athletes and the teams, but feels that adding travel expenses to an already strapped budget is not something she can support.

“The decision to join the new conference is a tough one for me, because this board in the last few years has had to make hard decisions. We’ve been cutting field trips and teachers and paraprofessionals and supplies and all kinds of things. At this time to increase the travel budget for a new athletic conference doesn’t make sense to me,” Krauspe said. “I remember four years ago when we almost lost our athletic program, and I feel a future responsibility that we don’t get back to that point.”

Athletic Director Leigh Jaffke said that expenses and missed school will be kept to a minimum. Kaneland may still get a chance to play Geneva, St. Charles and Batavia in non-conference games in certain sports, but not all sports.

“The change will enable Kaneland teams to compete on a more level playing field against similarly-sized schools,” Jaffke said.