Enterprise district to ask Joseph to join athletic forces

Mike Crawford

The Enterprise school board has authorized athletic director Mike Crawford to approach the Joseph school district about the possibility of combining athletic activities for the two schools. Crawford said the combination of the two school athletic programs would still keep the schools in the 2A classification and in the Wapiti League.

"We still would not be as big as Nyssa," he said.

At the same meeting the board agreed to cut nine days from the school's current calendar if the Jan. 28 income tax measure does not pass the Oregon electorate. Superintendent of schools Brad Royse said that reducing nine days from the calendar would save the district nearly $97,000.

In what looks to be a step toward consolidation, the Enterprise board granted Crawford the authority to make a proposal to the administration of the Joseph school district and report back at the February meeting.

The argument made by Crawford is that the Enterprise school district is facing $350,000 in additional budgetary cutbacks next year and the possible loss of athletic programs. "Athletics is a big part of our school that we don't want to lose," said Crawford. He put forth the argument that teams comprised of students from the two schools would be more competitive and, with enhanced junior varsity programs, more students would be allowed to participate at their own level of play.

Enterprise teacher Colby Knifong strongly endorsed the idea, saying how well it had worked at Weston-McEwen. Assistant boys and girls track coach Joe Neveau suggested that loading kids up each day and transporting them to the track in Joseph for practice might not be cost effective.

Crawford mentioned that enrollment, as it is in Enterprise, is down at the neighboring school in Joseph and that they are facing the possibility of going down in Oregon Schools Athletic Association (OSAA) status from 2A to 1A as Wallowa has done over the past two years. The travel in the 1A Old Oregon League is extensive to schools such as Jordan Valley and Crane, hence the cooperative sponsorship of the two districts' athletic programs would save Joseph on travel expenses. He also noted that splitting the travel costs would help both districts.

The athletic director, commended for "thinking out of the box" by board member Bill Ables, said at the meeting that the proposed change "is doable for this spring." He noted after the meeting that he is shooting to make the change next fall.

He said there is precedence for such joining of athletic programs and that Union and Powder Valley have combined forces in the sports of cross country and baseball for several years. He said that Elgin has been trying to make such a union with Imbler, but that Imbler has yet to be receptive to the change.

He did not think that OSAA approval would be any problem.

Royse informed the board that he had discussions with the school's auditor and representative from the teachers' union before presenting the proposal to reduce the days of the school year. He did not like "balancing the budget on the backs of our employees", but, with such a high percentage of the district's budget invested in payroll, had to do so.

Royse said that he is "adamantly opposed" to taking the nine days off at the end of the school year. Teacher Kevin McCadden, one of 34 persons in attendance in the school's home economics room, asked that the days be taken off as far back in the year as possible to enable persons like himself, who work the summer months, to better make up the loss in revenue.

School board chairman Randal Anderson, before the vote to reduce the number of days on the school calendar, said that such action "is the most popular solution around the state" for addressing the financial crunch facing public schools.

The idea of cutting Fridays, where the Enterprise district students only attend school 1/2 day anyway, was suggested by Royse.

Royse figures the loss to the school district at $100,000 if the Jan. 28 measure does not pass.

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