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Athletic director briefs D-424 board on proposed new conference

GENOA – Phil Jerbi weighed the costs and benefits of Genoa-Kingston School District 424 joining a new athletic conference with seven other schools.

On Tuesday, Jerbi, the district’s athletic director, gave a presentation to school board members on an athletic conference – slated to begin play in 2015 – that is being considered by schools in DeKalb, Kane and McHenry counties. 

Officials from one of the schools, Woodstock High School, had said they reached out to Johnsburg, Richmond-Burton, Marengo, Harvard, Burlington Central and Genoa-Kingston about forming the new conference. Woodstock North also is considering joining the conference. 

Genoa-Kingston is currently part of the Big Northern Conference East. Along with Marengo and Harvard, it is one of the original members of the BNC, formed in 1991. 

Superintendent Joe Burgess stressed at the meeting the district has not decided whether to join the conference. 

“I’m going to make it very, very clear, there has been no vote … it is in the discussion stages,” he said. 

In his presentation, Jerbi outlined how joining the new conference would affect transportation. He pointed out how seven of the schools in the BNC are closer to the district than Johnsburg and Richmond-Burton, which are 45 and 44 miles away, respectively. 

“We are hemorrhaging money in our transportation budget as far as athletics are concerned,” he said. “When I originally thought about the schools we would be competing with if we went to the proposed conference, I thought they would be much closer when in fact they are not much closer at all.”

Enrollment also was a concern. Jerbi said with the high school’s enrollment at 640, it would be the smallest in the new conference and it is projected to decrease to 534 by the 2018 school year. Meanwhile, enrollment at both Burlington Central and Woodstock is projected to increase. 

Jerbi said one of the ways joining the new conference would benefit the district is by alleviating inconsistent scheduling with private schools in the BNC. However, football scheduling would be difficult. All eight schools would need to join the new conference otherwise there would still be scheduling issues, he said. 

Jerbi plans on meeting next week with the athletic directors from the schools to discuss the new conference. He also wants to gather input from the community. 

“It seems to me that we have an established conference that we are in,” he said. “There are some problems, but in my personal opinion I’d like to try to rectify the problems with the other schools in that conference before we just bolt.” 

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