Athletic co-op with Holy Spirit Academy proposed


At its most recent meeting, Monday, May 11, the Maple Lake School Board heard a proposal to enter into a cooperative sponsorship for athletics between Maple Lake High School and Holy Spirit Academy, which is located at St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Monticello.
Maple Lake resident Paul Stokman presented the proposal, explaining that Holy Spirit Academy is a small school, with 25 students enrolled for next year. The school currently offers 9th and 10th grade classes and will be expanding to 11th grade next year. It does not receive federal subsidies and lacks funding for an athletic program of its own.
“What I propose is that we consider a cooperative with Holy Spirit Academy and allow students that live in this district that attend there the possibility of participating in extracurricular activities,” Stokman said.
In return, he suggested a possible reciprocal benefit in having Maple Lake students attend some nonreligious classes at Holy Spirit Academy, such as Latin. The two-year trial, capped at a small number of students, might be the best way to begin, he said.
“I know the athletic fees don’t cover the cost of a student participating here,” he said. “But I would be willing to entertain that we would look at something with Holy Spirit Academy that would be some proportional share in the burden of the sports program.” 
The board’s eventual decision, he concluded, would affect only a small number of students, but the matter is important to them and to their families.
Asked if the Monticello School District has been approached with any similar proposals, Stokman said it has, and that Holy Spirit is still waiting for a response. 
In a background memo, Superintendent Mark Redemske had informed the board he’d met with Stokman previously and had shared at that time he would not recommend that the school district enter into this co-op agreement for the following reasons: From a financial standpoint, it would cause the district significant state revenue for each student who enrolls at Holy Spirit rather than at Maple Lake High School. The district would also lose its voter-approved operation referendum dollars for any student not attending its public schools. Secondly, he noted that activity fees cover only a fraction of the per-student cost in Maple Lake’s athletic programs. Thirdly, Redemske shared that he’d also been contacted by a parent whose child may enroll in the Jane Goodall Environmental Sciences Academy charter school who would like to have his son continue in Maple Lake’s athletic programs. Finally, he noted, according to Athletic Director Dave Schroeder, the district’s enrollment being used by the Minnesota State High School League for the next two years, for classification assignments, is 304 students. At 321 students, Holdingford has recently been bumped up to class AAA in football. The number of classifications is also being increased in softball, baseball and volleyball, and Schroeder has indicated that adding the enrollment of other high schools could affect Maple Lake’s classification in those sports.
“Past co-op decisions by the school board have been geared to keep students in our high school or to encourage them to enroll in our high school in the future,” Redemske concluded. “Entering a co-op with Holy Spirit Academy or Jane Goodall Environmental Sciences Academy would do the opposite.”
As district policy does not allow the board to take action at the same meeting an item is originally raised for the public, the matter was taken under advisement for further discussion and a vote next month.