Football sharing discussed at North Butler school board

At the North Butler School Board meeting on Monday evening, over 30 people were in attendance as football sharing with Clarksville was discussed.

     Discussion on football sharing was heated, with repercussions possible* in the school board election on Nov. 5. No resolution was reached, as the school board determined to hold a special joint meeting with the Clarksville Board tentatively on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m.

     The football season ends on Oct. 25, and it was the request of a parent in attendance that a decision not be made until the season is over, so as not to cause division among teammates.

     The main issues with sharing, as seen by North Butler residents, seem to revolve around the team’s placement in Class 1A.

     “Our kids just can’t continue to play at the 1A district. They need to be back down to where they’re playing school sizes that are near their own and have the same troubles we do with having players. When we go up against a team like Nashua-Plainfield, we’re very evenly matched. They’re in the same field we are. They have a limited number of kids to play,” said parent Fawn Weibke. “When we go up against a team like Aplington-Parkersburg or Dike-New Hartford, they have 50, 60, 70 kids there, and they’re just rotating them in and out. I think by the end of a couple of those games, they were playing their JV teams against us, just to give their JV teams more practice.”

     Weibke also pointed to logistical issues with handing out materials and with staffing when games are played at a location other than North Butler. With the funds North Butler has invested in their facilities, she would prefer to see junior high players practicing at North Butler with their high school teammates.

     “We’re doing all this travelling to and from, and it just seems it’s a waste of time for our kids. They’re practicing later. They’re not getting things done on time. So I would like that to be considered,” Wiebke said. “And then mostly I just always want North Butler to be put first. We sometimes act like we don’t have any cards, and I think we’re holding a lot of cards as North Butler. We have the number of players. We have football coaches. We have an excellent facility.”

     While Clarksville kids have been great and their families supportive, North Butler parents feel they aren’t seeing numbers from their neighboring district.

     “Of all their senior class boys, only one came over. And a lot of those boys used to play football. But either them or their parents won’t let them come and play here,” Weibke said.

     Allison resident and long-time YSF coach Michael Ball agreed that sharing may not be best for the district.

     “I’ve doing youth sports in this town for 20 years, and this is not working, period. This is detrimental to our football program, so bad it’s not even funny,” Ball said.

     He added that junior high players are not, in his opinion, getting the physical conditioning and contact drills they need because (with traveling considered) there isn’t the time.

     If North Butler varsity had been in the same district as Nashua-Plainfield this year, he feels they’d probably be in second or third place, rather than in 51st place, as they are in Class 1A.

     Ball feels North Butler is in a good place with numbers going forward, with 13 or 14 sixth graders and at least as many fifth graders moving into the next grades.

     Kids, though, get tired of losing, and if the district continues losing in class 1A, Ball feels the older kids will drop out of football. If they play in a class where they have a chance at winning, there’s a greater chance of retaining the kids.

     Allison resident Tim Primus asked why the district initially decided on the sharing agreement and what the advantages were perceived as at the time.

     School board member Liz Schroeder said that at the time, the team was not very large, and they had lost a lot of kids to many reasons. The hope was that the program would grow with the schools working together.

     Primus asked if there were a financial advantage. The answer was no.

     “There’s not a competitive advantage, you understand that, right?” Primus said. “We have an election next month, and I’d like to know where board members stand on the sharing thing.”

     Schroeder said she has talked with the athletic director, principal and students at North Butler, and they are saying the same things that she heard in the room.

     “Most parents want to drop down to class A. That’s why they don’t want to share: nothing against Clarksville. It’s nothing against the kids. The kids are great. The kids I’ve talked with want to keep going. They like their teammates,” Schroeder said.

     Liking Clarksville isn’t a good enough reason for Primus.

      “That’s not a reason to stay together: because they like one another, they get along. You have to stay together because there’s an advantage; there’s a financial advantage; there’s a competitive advantage. There isn’t that. It’s clear,” Primus said. “I don’t see how you can still be up in the air when you’re going to vote in [a few] minutes. Now if you make the horrible decision, the terrible decision of sharing, define sharing for me. What does that look like?”

     It was answered that sharing would continue as it has for the past two years, if the districts were to vote in favor.

     “We work for the people of North Butler,” school board member Laurie Shultz said.

     Board member Eric Bixby suggested that the matter be tabled until after the school board election and that a joint meeting be held with the Clarksville school board.

     “First off, you said we have an election coming up. Yes, we do. My personal opinion is we don’t have the time and/or the facts to make a decision tonight. I think we should table this until after the election, get the boards together, have a good discussion about it with the boards, and bring something back and propose it to the communities,” Bixby said.

     However, the board noted that waiting until after the election would cut the decision too close to the deadline for districting.

     Bixby recommended that the district look at numbers five to ten years down the road.

     “Where are our class sizes down in the lower elementary grades that are coming up into the programs? Are we going to have enough students on our own to keep that going if we don’t include Clarksville?” Bixby asked.

     He also mentioned the hope of eventually including the Clarksville school in the North Butler District.

     “We’ve got some history now. We know a little bit of what we’ve been dealing with,” Bixby said. “We can grow off of that and build off of that.”

     Discussion will continue with the Clarksville school board meeting on Oct. 21. A joint meeting may be held with both boards in attendance after the football season is over.


*Original wording was  "threatened for the." Changed on reader suggestion.


Tribune-Journal & Star

101 N. Main St.
P.O. Box 788
Clarksville, IA 50619
Phone: 319-278-4641

Mid-America Publishing

This newspaper is part of the Mid-America Publishing Family. Please visit for more information.