Johnsburg board discusses Kishwaukee River Conference

JOHNSBURG – Johnsburg’s District 12 school board did not make moving to the Kishwaukee River Conference an action item for its next meeting, although that could be forthcoming.

In its meeting Tuesday, the board heard a presentation from principal Kevin Shelton and athletic director Tom Ross about possibly moving to the new KRC in the fall of 2016. Johnsburg is moving to the Big Northern Conference this fall, but it was invited by the five-member KRC to join that league in the 2016-17 school year.

Tuesday’s meeting marked the first time the District 12 board discussed the possible move. If Johnsburg wants to join the KRC, it would need to let the BNC know by Aug. 1 because conferences ask for two years notice when a school wants to leave.

“I don’t know where the board will be on it,” Shelton said. “I don’t know what our next steps are. We wanted to collect what we can and give it to the board. I don’t know if our timeline will fit [the BNC’s] timeline.”

Johnsburg was in the Big Northern Conference previous to the 2006-07 school year, when it moved to the Fox Valley Conference. At that time, enrollment projections had Johnsburg reaching close to 1,100 students. In the years since, however, enrollment has dropped and Johnsburg, with a 766 enrollment this year, will fall further.

Johnsburg informed the BNC it was interested in returning and was invited back by the BNC, so there may be hesitance on Johnsburg’s part to jump again in two years. Yet, for travel considerations, natural rivalries and enrollments, the KRC appears to be Johnsburg’s best fit.

Woodstock and Woodstock North engineered the idea of forming the KRC and informed the FVC they would be leaving in two years. Burlington Central, Harvard and Marengo did the same with the BNC. The KRC invited Johnsburg, Richmond-Burton and Genoa-Kingston, other BNC East Division members, to join them the league in two years, but G-K declined.

R-B's school board is scheduled to meet on June 18.

Johnsburg’s second-closest road trip, after R-B, in the new BNC would be 44 miles (Rockford Christian), while its longest in the KRC would be Burlington Central (37). Most BNC trips would be more than 60 miles.

Board vice president Scott Rowe asked if all the realignment makes sense and Ross agreed that it does for various reasons.

Ross and Shelton’s presentation showed maps with distances to each school. They also offered positives and negatives for both conferences, although they did not make recommendations.

“We have not met with the Kishwaukee River Conference schools because we are going into the Big Northern Conference,” Ross said. “We just wanted to discuss this because the Kishwaukee River invited us to join.”

Another factor of concern is what the BNC will look like in the future. The schools closest to Johnsburg do not want to change divisions, so Ross wondered if Johnsburg could wind up in a division with Rock Falls, 105 miles away.

“It’ll be interesting to see the next steps,” Shelton said. “There’s no ‘Easy’ button. If there was, we’d have pressed it a long time ago. When we were getting into the Big Northern, we thought there would be stability. We have to see what the next steps are.”

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