Henning School Board may look into potential athletic pairings 

By Chad Koenen


The Henning School Board could vote on a resolution as soon as its Feb. 8 meeting to explore future co-op opportunities for extracurricular activities with the Battle Lake School District.

During its regularly scheduled meeting last week, Henning School Superintendent Barry Olson said a committee made up of one board member from each school, athletic directors and school superintendents informally met recently to discuss further co-op opportunities between the school districts. 

Olson said a formal resolution will be brought to the school board in February that will allow the two school districts to begin discussions about additional co-ops opportunities. 

Currently, Henning and Battle Lake both have their own girls and boys basketball teams, as well as volleyball team, but that could change in the future if additional sports are approved to co-op.

Over the past few years the school board has heard from athletic director and boys basketball coach Randy Misegades about a potential need to pair with Battle Lake for boys basketball, due to declining numbers of participants. While the girls basketball and volleyball programs continue to have strong numbers, school board member Matt Reinbold said an informal discussion between Henning and Battle Lake Schools has included having all sports co-oping, not just boys basketball. That includes sports that have enough participants from each school to field their own team.

“It’s no longer just basketball it is all sports. Volleyball, both boys and girls (basketball)” said Reinbold of the discussion. “(It would) be nice if we all came up with our own pros and cons list.”

Board member Deb Hart asked why sports like girls basketball and volleyball would be included in potential co-op discussions with Battle Lake if their numbers continue to remain strong. 

Reinbold said some of the preliminary discussion included having just one brand, if Henning and Battle Lake were paired for all sports, as opposed to being the Henning Hornets or Battle Lake Battlers for some sports, and Otter Tail Central Bulldogs for others. There was also a concern about participation numbers down the road as well. He said some coaches are in favor of pairing with Battle Lake for additional sports, while others would rather see Henning remain on its own for as many sports as possible.

Just because the school board approves the measure to discuss further co-op opportunities with Battle Lake, Reinbold said it doesn’t necessarily mean the two sides will come to an agreement. 

“Who knows they might say no, we might say no,” to further co-op agreements.

Back in session

The Henning School District will transition to in-person for all students K-12 this week. On Tuesday the district will officially welcome all 10-12th grade students into the building for the first time since last fall. 

Following the Christmas break, students in grades K-9 returned to in-person instruction, while students in grades 10-12 were learning in the hybrid model. As the area’s COVID-19 numbers continue to decrease, the Henning School COVID-19 Incident team made the recommendation to the school board to make the switch to in-person learning for all students effective Jan. 19.

Since returning from Christmas vacation, Olson said student attendance has been positive as he hopes that continues for the remainder of the school year.

“It’s no longer just basketball it is all sports. Volleyball, both boys and girls (basketball). It would) be nice if we all came up with our own pros and cons list.”

Matt Reinbold

“Overall I am really pleased with our attendance and I hope it continues as it moves forward,” he said.  

In addition to returning to in-person for all students in grades K-12 Olson updated the board on a recent group of staff members who received a COVID-19 saliva test. Olson said all 13 staff members had their test come back negative. He credited all staff members and their effort in making sure students return to in-person learning in a safe way.

“Overall I think we are battling the pandemic really well and I appreciate the staff and all they have done,” he said. 

In other news

• Approved keeping all of the officers in the same positions as last year. Board chair will remain as Reed Reinbold, vice chair is Rod Thalmann, secretary is Kim Haugen and treasurer is Matt Reinbold.

• Approved increasing the pay school board members receive for committee meetings from $40 per meeting to $75 per meeting. The school board will now be paid the same for a regular meeting, as well as a committee meeting. Before making the change, several school board members said committee meetings oftentimes last just as long as regular school board meetings. The school board compensation is similar to what other area school districts pay their school board members. 

• Approved a $750 stipend to each certified teacher for work outside of their normal duties to provide distance learning opportunities for students caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The stipend will be prorated for certified staff members who are not full-time. The stipend is based on $25 per hour for 30 hours of work. Other school employees including the COVID-19 coordinator, COVID-19 financial manager and the COVID-19 maintenance and transportation director will also receive the stipend. The money will be used from COVID-19 funding. Board members Deb Hart and Terry Oscarson abstained from voting on the stipend.