GREENTOWN — For the Eastern High School administration, what had been rumored for months became official Tuesday night.
The Eastern Community Schools board voted 5-0 to leave the Mid-Indiana Conference and move to the Hoosier Heartland Conference, effective for the 2015-16 school year.
A standing-room-only crowd listened to two hours of discussion on the topic, including comments from 17 public patrons, several coaches, administrators and every board member before the decision was rendered.
”I’m really proud of the community for showing up and offering their input,” Superintendent Tracy Caddell said. “I said all along this needed to be a community decision, and you could see [Tuesday] night, Greentown parents have a lot of passion for their kids. And, whether you were for or against this particular issue, it’s really indicative of how much our parents care, how much our board cares, as well as the high school administration and athletic council. They all did a tremendous job of researching this issue, and our coaches all had a voice. To me, it was really democracy in action. ... I’m really proud of [everyone’s] rationale. But, I’m relieved it’s over.”
The Hoosier Heartland Conference, which currently includes Tri-Central, Sheridan, Carroll, Clinton Central, Clinton Prairie and Rossville, under the new proposal, will add Eastern, Tri-County, Frontier and Taylor.
Public concern was multi-faceted, but centered around two major concerns.
Patrons see travel time to schools like Frontier and Tri-County as a major deterrent due to the fact parents who work until 5 p.m. will struggle to make it to those destinations in time to see an athletic event.
Athletic Director Brad Wilson presented travel times to several current non-conference opponents’ schools in a slide show, several of which were similar to the HHC schools with the exception of Frontier and Tri-County, and added Eastern would not schedule events to those particular destinations on school nights.