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Morris Area School Board approves two-year trap shooting team

MORRIS - By Kim Ukura

Sun Tribune

The Morris Area School Board voted Tuesday to approve a two-year, experimental trap shooting team that will be coached by FFA advisors Natasha Mortenson and Nick Milbrandt.

Superintendent Scott Monson told the board that although he thinks trap shooting can be a good, lifelong skill, he did not recommend approving the team because trap shooting is not officially sponsored by the Minnesota State High School League.

"Where do you draw the line between what we will support as a school district and what we won't?" asked Monson. "There are a lot of things out there folks that kids want to do."

However, board members disagreed with Monson, arguing that supporting the activity would promote the district's goals of increasing student and community involvement.

School Board member Jamie Solvie noted that the district has approved other activities that were not at first sponsored by MSHSL, including the FIRST Robotics team. Solvie also pointed out that adding the sport would be cost-neutral for the school - students would pay their own activity fee, and the local 9F has agreed to allow students to use their facility and clays for no charge.

The Minnesota State High School Clay Target League spring 2012 season attracted 1,500 students from 100 different schools, said Activities Director Mark Ekren. The league operated virtually, which means participants travel to their local gun club for competitions. Scores are submitted online and compared virtually to other schools in each conference.

All participants are also required to get a Firearms Safety Certificate from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and all guns used for competitions are transported to the facility by parents. Ekren said he thought the activity could help promote gun safety in the community.

School Board member Brent Fuhrman said he didn't see any reason not to approve the new activity, noting that it would get more students involved and increase community involvement with the school.

"I don't see why we would say no," said Fuhrman. "If it were a monetary thing or we needed coaches, then I would definitely want to look more closely. Getting more kids involved with our school is good."

School Board member Dick Metzger suggested that in the future the board look into creating a policy to help decide what activities the district would sponsor. Metzger said the policy could outline that activities should be cost-neutral to the school, have faculty support, and promote community partnerships.

Other business

• The Morris Area FIRST Robotics team demonstrated their state-competition robot and provided the board with an update on their 2012 season. Coach Eric Buchanan told the board that the team's fifth year of competition was their most successful. The team competed in two regional competitions and placed 15th in the first MSHSL state tournament.

• The board approved a cooperative sponsorship agreement with Chokio-Alberta for boys' swimming, and approved new agreements for boys' and girls' hockey. The agreement for boys' hockey now includes Morris Area, Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, Ortonville, Herman-Norcross and Benson. The agreement for girls' hockey includes Morris Area, KMS, Benson, Ortonville, and CGB.

• The board approved relocation payments for principals Ken Gagner and Craig Peterson of $1,269.78 and $1,721.19 respectively.

• The board approved a notice regarding seniority for Morris Area Support Staff. The board will likely approve a final seniority list at their regular meeting in November.

• The board approved two school board goals for the upcoming year: participating in five dysfunctions of a team training and commit to improving in three areas and put together an attendance sheet for all board meetings and committee meetings.

• The board scheduled a special meeting on Monday, Nov. 12 at 12:00 p.m. at the District Office to canvas the school board election results.