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Marengo votes to leave BNC

G-K AD: School is content with Big Northern

MARENGO – The Kishwaukee River Conference continues to grow after the District 154 Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to allow Marengo to become a charter member of the new league starting in 2016.

Woodstock, Woodstock North and Burlington Central already have committed to join the conference. Athletic directors and the principals from the four schools, along with Harvard, met Friday about the matter.

Although there is no item on the agenda at Wednesday’s Harvard school board meeting, District 154 superintendent Dan Bertrand said he expects the board to discuss the matter then. Because it is not on the agenda, Harvard cannot vote on the matter.

The schools must give the BNC two years notice to leave, but if the BNC votes unanimously to allow them to leave early, the KRC could begin play in the fall of 2015. The Fox Valley Conference – of which Woodstock and Woodstock North are members – do not allow for the same early departure.

Officials from schools committed to the new conference hope to have board approval from each of the districts by the end of the current school year.

Bertrand told board members that the conference will attempt to attract at least five schools to begin play. He said the KRC would be willing to start with five schools, but will approach Johnsburg, Richmond-Burton and Genoa-Kingston to join.

“I’m not speaking for them or their districts, but I feel pretty confident that we can get one of them to come with us if we can get this thing started,” Bertrand said. “It doesn’t make much sense for some of them to be driving past us to go play Rock Falls and Mendota.”

Part of the discussions involved possibly expanding the BNC to include Woodstock and Woodstock North. But both schools were told by BNC President Drew Popejoy that the league did not have interest in the conference growing.

Popejoy, the principal at Rockford Christian, was not available for comment.

Johnsburg, R-B and G-K – two of which are members of the BNC East and that have been involved in discussion of the new conference – were not at Friday’s meeting. Bertrand said although all three have been approached about joining the new league, none of them is part of the discussion.

Like with other schools that have committed, cutting down on travel time and learning time were factors in the decision to form the new league as were matching up schools of similar size and competition level.

“You look at Harvard and Burlington and the Woodstocks, us – they’re just natural rivalries,” Bertrand told board members. “You’re going to have better gates (revenue), you’re going to have better rivalries.

“A lot of people in this community don’t even know where Oregon and Stillman Valley and Mendota are. But they go to Woodstock, they go to Harvard. It’s a natural.”

When reached by phone Monday evening, G-K AD Phil Jerbi said that although the school has had discussions about joining the new league, at this point it’s content with being in the BNC. The Cogs are a charter member of the league.

“We will continue to always look at viable options,” Jerbi said. “At this particular point we are a member of the Big Northern.”

• Steve Nitz contributed to this report.

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