PIERRE — On Wednesday, Jan. 12, the South Dakota High School Activities Association Board of Directors heard appeals from five schools regarding adjustments to their student numbers. A school’s average daily enrollment determines its sports classification. Three of the appeals were successful.
Two of the appeals related to religious exemptions. Both Lake Preston and Hamlin have students who belong to the Apostolic Lutheran religion which does not allow participation in extracurricular activities.
Lake Preston Superintendent Dana Felderman told the board that removing the four ADM Apostolic Lutheran students from the school would allow the school to continue competing in Class B football nine-a-side.
Lake Preston’s appeal was approved. A similar call from Hamlin has been the subject of a bit more discussion.
A letter to the board from Hamlin School District Superintendent Patrick Kraning said 54.3% of students in the district would not participate in extracurricular activities because of their religious beliefs.
He requested that Hamlin be allowed to continue participating in 9AA football rather than move to 11B.
He also called for the school to be allowed to remain in Class B for golf and wrestling rather than moving to Class A.
Groton board member Marty Weismantel said Hamlin gets state aid for all students in his district. Allowing the school to participate in nine-a-side football means it will be competing with schools that have a third of its total membership.
“It’s not like they’re fighting over numbers,” Weismantel said.
The board approved the appeal on an 8-1 vote with Weismantel dissenting.
A letter from Sisseton High School Principal Jim Frederick explained that six of the students counted in his average daily enrollment lost their eligibility to participate in sports. Removing these students from ADM allows Sisseton to retain its current classification. The board approved the appeal unanimously.
On the cusp of moving from Class B cross-country to Class A, Kimball operations manager Matt Dykstra said, “We just don’t have the numbers now in some sports.”
Harding County board member Kelly Messmer said he was likeable, but the numbers speak for themselves.
“There are a lot of schools that have to deal with it,” Messmer said.
Kimball’s appeal died for lack of motion.
SDHSAA Executive Director Dan Swartos asked the board to file an appeal from Kadoka that requested that four students taking fully online classes not be included in the school’s ADM. Swartos said he would speak with the school because removing the four students would not change Kadoka’s classifications.
Also at the meeting, the board approved the average daily membership for member schools. These figures, from the SD Department of Education, will be used to rank schools for the next two school years.
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