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Tiger teams will leave the Missota

It didn't take long for word to spread about Farmington's new athletic conference.

The District 192 School Board voted Monday to approve a move to the South Suburban Conference for Farmington High School's sports and activities starting in the 2014-15 school year. FHS athletic director Jon Summer sent the news out on Twitter after the decision was made, and by the time superintendent Jay Haugen stopped for gas on his way home after the meeting he was already being approached by families excited about the change.

Summer proposed the move, which has already been approved by the South Suburban Conference, for a few reasons. At 1,883 students, FHS has the second largest enrollment among Missota Conference schools, and that enrollment is expected to grow. Summer has said FHS and the Farmington District as a whole is starting to look more like the suburban members of the SSC than the more rural members of the Missota.

The move is also expected to save the district money. The average one-way trip to another Missota Conference school is 27 miles. The average South Suburban trip is 12.6 miles.

Even if Farmington had stuck around in the Missota, there's no guarantee the conference will be there much longer. Summer said Monday Red Wing has applied for membership in the Big Nine conference and Shakopee has applied to the South Suburban.

The board expected to make a decision on the move at its Jan. 7 meeting, but board member Julie Singewald asked for a delay to give parents a chance to express concerns. She said she'd heard from some parents who worried Farmington teams might struggle to win against the larger schools in the South Suburban. Using current enrollment, FHS is the fifth-largest high school in its new league.

Singewald supported the move Monday but raised those concerns again. She said it's important FHS teams be able to compete and win. Summer said he believes they can.

"We're in the business of pushing kids to pursue excellence," he said. "I firmly believe our kids can rise to that challenge."

Mitch Snobeck was the only parent to address the move at Monday's meeting. He spoke in favor of the change. He pointed out that because FHS starts its school day later than many other schools athletes often have to leave class early to get to games.

"I see so many positive things that can come about from this opportunity," he said. "I know it's a big decision, but I think it's one that's forward-looking."

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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