Shared program issue needs heavy consideration


In November, Fort Madison Community School District officials notified Holy Trinity Catholic’s system that they would be dropping them from the football program.

The move is disappointing to many because it will inevitably make some student athletes and families take a hard look at options when it comes to playing in the fall.

On the surface, the move was geared toward helping the Bloodhounds drop a class to 3A. That was a must. Not necessarily for the program to show greater success, which it will, but for another reason.

I watched Fort Madison go up to Waverly-Shell Rock and I saw first-hand what playing a 4A school does. I quietly said at halftime to some people I was talking to through the fence, that we needed the running clock.

“Someone is going to get hurt.”

Credit to Derek Doherty’s Bloodhounds for getting up play after play after taking hits from Division 1 caliber linebackers. And you can’t make the comparison without paying compliment to the Bloodhounds for hanging around with the Go-Hawks for much of the first half.

But this was a dangerous game. Fort Madison has seen tough games in 3A, too. And Doherty will tell you the program needs to see high level competition like that to get better. He’s right. But not to the point where student athletes are in jeopardy. This move, despite putting HTC student-athletes in a position of having to choose schools based on where they can play the sports they love, is better for Fort Madison.

But on the heels of the move now comes speculation that the future of the shared sports programs between HTC and Fort Madison are under heavy consideration with a decision on the future expected in April.

The state requires all shared program agreements be submitted by April 30. There are close to 10 sports programs that are shared right now including boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track, girls cross country, boys and girls wrestling, baseball, and a few others.

As a community we want to see the best programs put on courts, fields, pitches, floors, and what have you. 

We want to see success and we want all of our student-athletes in the community - HTC, Fort Madison, and Central Lee, to have an opportunity to excel. We want to see a counter to the talent laden areas like the growing metro areas of the I-80 corridor.

Fort Madison and Holy Trinity have a history of sharing athletic programs and it should be noted, academic programs as well. The energy behind the shared programs was to allow as many students as possible to compete in as many sports as possible.

Now we’re at a point where Fort Madison is starting to think about the equity of the programs. The Fort Madison Community School District board of directors has always approved the shared agreements as presented by the FMSCD Activities Director.

Recently, the approvals have been met with concerns about the overall benefits of the shared programs and whether the value of sharing the programs has equity.

Equity’s tough to extrapolate in this circumstance and those with this decision in their hands should weigh factors carefully.

We’re talking about equity and fairness against playing time and program success. Those in charge of making the decision should weigh everything very carefully.  Very carefully. These are students in the mix here. And almost all of these students live within the Fort Madison district, so really, they are all our kids.

Holy Trinity’s board of directors approved a $10,000 annual payment to Fort Madison schools to help offset some of what had to be considered inequities in the activity department.

But what does the $10,000 represent and how did HTC arrive at that total?

Was it discussed with Fort Madison officials to see if $10,000 would make the agreements more equitable in the eyes of the board of directors at FMCSD?

The move certainly shows that Holy Trinity is serious about doing what it can to keep the programs intact.

The thing to remember is that there are kids involved in many, many athletic programs. Pulling the agreements could lead to many families pulling their students from HTC and putting them in Fort Madison so they can participate in their programs.

The emotion on this one is raw and we all need to react with measured, thoughtful response. There are points to be made on both sides. Fort Madison does deserve enhanced equity in the program. But HTC students deserve the chance to get on the field.

Let’s make sure we’re looking at all sides of this agreement because so much is riding on it.

Speaking of riding, this weekend was our annual trek to the Lake of the Ozarks for about 5 rounds of golf with some friends. 

They were all joking all weekend that their names would end up the paper. That would be the case if they had offered something substantial to my golf game. But they didn’t. They did offer $5 each after my partner and I beat them all in 2-man best ball Saturday evening, but that’s Beside the Point.

Chuck Vandenberg is editor and co-owner of Pen City Current and can be reached a

Beside the Point, Opinion, Column, Chuck Vandenberg, Fort Madison Community School District, shared programs, Holy Trinity Catholic, Lake of the Ozarks, sports,


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