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A more than two hour meeting focused on strategic planning for Chadron Public Schools’ extra-curricular activities boiled down to three things: money, location and communication.

The effort, organized after nearly 50 individuals signed a letter to the school board calling for improvements to the district’s extra-curricular activities, was a focused meeting. The more than 90 people attending – split almost evenly between school and community members – were divided into small discussion groups and asked to brainstorm about the district’s strengths, weaknesses, gaps and opportunities in relation to extra-curricular activities.

The letter, which remained an undercurrent at the Feb. 21 planning meeting until near the end when it was addressed head-on, called on the school district to, among other things:

Add a pole vault pit

Improve practice and performance facilities

Use Chadron State College facilities more frequently

Evaluate the balance between home and away contests and distance traveled for away games

Allow local companies to submit bids for school purchases

Support student travel to state and national events

Host more tournaments in Chadron

At the end of the night, it became apparent that many of the concerns are directly related to a lack of funding, the district’s location and the need for more education and communication on policies, procedures and regulations the district must follow.

“We’re here for the good of Chadron Public Schools,” said Dr.Troy Unzicker, the area’s NSAA board representative who mediated the meeting. “I’d encourage you to stay in the process. You opened up some great lines of communication.”

The district plans to host another strategic planning meeting March 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the high school library. The public is welcome to attend to continue the process.

The type of facilities offered for extra-curricular activities in Chadron made the lists created by several of the small groups last week and appeared as a strength, a weakness and an opportunity.

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“We’re behind the curve because of a lack of funding,” said teacher Craig Nobiling.

Adding a pole vault pit to the track, for example, was an option eliminated when the track was constructed because of cost. Even with a pit, the track does not have run-outs, meaning the district would still be unable to host district meets.

Many in the crowd identified working with CSC to use its facilities more for both practice and performances as an opportunity.

Scheduling of activities was also a major topic during the course of the evening.

“Do we want to go to Broken Bow to play football? Maybe not, but the state says we are going to Broken Bow,” explained teacher Renae Noble.

The NSAA schedules all football games for every school across the state. As for the disparity between home and away contests for softball and volleyball, while those schedules are handled locally, it can be challenging to convince other schools to travel to Chadron. While the letter referred to only four home volleyball games and 31 away games, the team didn’t board the bus that many times. Instead, during the regular season they took 12 trips, with many of those to compete in triangular or invites with multiple games. It was a similar story in softball, which the letter said had three home games and 22 away games. That team actually got a on a bus 11 times.

“We are where we are. This state isn’t going to get any smaller,” Noble remarked at one point.

Still, there were plenty of positives about the district noted, including the variety of activities to meet student interests, and the fact that the majority of students are involved in extra-curricular activities.

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