Crookston School Board approves 2021-2022 MSHSL membership

Jess Bengtson
Crookston Times

    The Crookston School Board recently approved a resolution to accept membership in the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) for 2021-2022 with at least one member wondering how they can express their “displeasure” with the rise in fees. Other school districts in Minnesota have shared concerns about the fees with some southern high schools such as Albert Lea and Kingsland refusing to pay last year’s imposed “COVID installment” fees which resulted in them receiving a notice from the MSHSL this spring saying their school is “no longer in good standing.”

    The MSHSL has argued that the fees were needed after facing a financial shortfall from the loss of state tournament income due to the pandemic.

    Last year’s (2020-2021) MSHSL membership fees for Crookston went from $2,500 to $4,000 plus had a $7,000 “COVID installment” which caused concern from board members then and initially had a failed motion to accept the fees but was later approved citing student participation.

    The reasoning behind student participation and doing “the right thing for the kids” was the theme for this year’s approval. Superintendent Jeremy Olson said he has communicated with the MSHSL and the 2021-2022 rate will be the “ongoing rate” plus the League will work at stabilizing their budget and may look into reducing their fees. When asked, Olson added that he “wouldn’t bank on that” in regards to a fee reduction with the return of state tournaments.

    “This is the right thing for the kids and we will continue to review it over time,” Olson continued.

    “How do we express our displeasure for their budget, executive directors; how do we tell them this is not reasonable?” asked board member Mike Theis. “How do we as a school board or group of school boards express our dismay?”

    Olson answered that they’ve added superintendents to MSHSL’s discussions and they’ll try to help “hold the line”.

    “We’ve voiced concerns to their board of representatives and we’ve done everything we can at this point,” Olson explained. “Unless there’s a separate organization, where do do we go from here?”

    “There is pressure out there, they understand we’re less than happy,” he added.

FEES

    According to the MSHSL website, the 2021-2022 membership fee is $100, the registration fee for athletics and activities is $225 per activity, and the cost per student is $6.35.

    “Membership and registration fees help offset costs of state tournaments, provide services to member schools and help pay for catastrophic and concussion insurance,” their website reads.

    When a district accepts membership with the MSHSL, it “delegates the control, supervision and regulation of interscholastic athletic and fine arts events to the Minnesota State High School League” and “allows the district to participate in the approved inter-school activities sponsored by the League and its subdivisions.”