NEIC makes first move in removing Waverly-Shell Rock
By Bob Fenske
Northeast Iowa Conference superintendents on Monday voted to remove Waverly-Shell Rock from the conference, the first step in removing the NEIC’s largest school from the 102-year-old conference.
The NEIC’s Executive Board, which is made up of the superintendents from the conference’s six schools, voted 5-1 to approve the resolution that would amend the NEIC’s constitution to remove Waverly-Shell Rock from the league. The lone no vote came from Waverly-Shell Rock.
Under the conference’s bylaws, the vote by the Executive Board does not necessarily mean that the conference would drop Waverly-Shell Rock because now, according to a press release put out by the NEIC Monday afternoon, the superintendents will take the resolution “back to their respective school boards so their school boards can act on the resolution and let the Executive Board members know how they should cast their vote during the next meeting” of the board.
If the resolution is passed a second time, the NEIC would become a five-team league, effective at the end of the 2022-23 school year.
Conference rules required five affirmative votes during Monday’s meeting because the bylaws state that conference membership can only be changed with a “majority-plus-one” vote. Because the NEIC currently has six members, a 4-2 vote would not have sufficed.
During its March meeting, the New Hampton School Board directed Superintendent Jay Jurrens to make the motion that would effectively kick Waverly-Shell Rock out of the league.
The board’s direction came just a few weeks after the Upper Iowa Conference extended invitations to 10 schools — including NEIC members New Hampton, Crestwood and Waukon — to apply for membership.
In interviews last month, Jurrens said he had concerns about the NEIC’s future as a six-team league and that if any of the schools invited by the UIC switch leagues, he doubted the NEIC could survive.
Asked on Monday how a five-team conference could survive, and Jurrens pondered the thought for a moment before answering.
“Without Waverly, I think it does make the NEIC more attractive to other schools,” he said. “I’ve emphasized all along that this is really about enrollment, size of school, and Waverly is so much bigger than the rest of the conference.”
A report released by the Iowa High School Athletic Association on Monday appears to prove Jurrens’ point. The IHSAA and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union both use what are called BEDs enrollments — the number of students in grades 9-11 — to determine classifications for schools.
Waverly-Shell Rock’s BEDs enrollment next year is 596, 166 more than the second-biggest school in the NEIC, Decorah. New Hampton’s is the conference’s smallest school with 272 students in grades 9-11.
The NEIC was formed in 1920 with Charles City, Decorah, New Hampton, Oelwein, Cresco, Waverly and Osage as members. Over the years, membership has also included Waukon, Cedar Falls, Nashua and West Union, but only Decorah, Crestwood and New Hampton have been members of the league from its inception.
After Waukon rejoined the NEIC in 1968, the conference enjoyed exceptional stability for more than 50 years as a seven-team conference until Oelwein departed for the North Iowa Cedar League at the beginning of this school year.