The Neosho School District believes that interscholastic activities shall supplement the secondary curricular program, and as such become a vital part of a student’s total educational experience. These experiences contribute to the development of learning skills and emotional patterns that enable the student to make maximum use of his/her education. Student participation in any part of our activities is a privilege which carries with it responsibilities to the school, to the activity, to the student body, to the community and to the student himself/herself. This participation privilege represents a year-round commitment and will help to develop the student physically, mentally, socially and emotionally.
The Neosho School District is part of the Central Ozark Conference, comprised of schools located in the Ozarks region in the state of Missouri. The conference includes: Branson, Carl Junction, Carthage, Joplin, Neosho, Nixa, Ozark, Republic, Webb City and Willard.
The Neosho School District’s Participation in the new Central Ozark Conference
Letter from Dr. Jim Cummins, Superintendent of Schools
Thank you to all who participated in the Neosho School District Conference survey. It is our intention when we issue surveys to gather input, measure the pulse of the community, and seek questions/solutions we maybe didn’t consider. Surveys are also challenging because it is almost impossible to include all of the relevant, background information that goes into making decisions regarding complex matters. In addition, it is hard to control who takes the survey. I know of at least one instance where someone outside of our community took the survey. With all of this said, we feel it is also important to report back what we gathered.
Of the 385 surveys, 155 identified as alumni, 239 family members of a current, future or former athlete, 101 former Neosho School District athletes, 63 current athletes and 46 community members not described in another category. It would be impractical to list all of the responses.
The choices were categorized as follows:
The results are definitely split with valid points on both sides. I will address some of the key points/opinions that were shared on the survey and/or social media.
It would not be ideal in any manner (student time away, parent travel, school expense) to go to West Plains. However, it is important to understand the magnitude of school district cost that the additional travel would have cost. Running a scenario using the last two years of varsity travel and replacing Nixa with Bolivar, Republic with Marshfield, Ozark with West Plains, WC with Logan-Rogersville, Carthage with Parkview, Joplin with Hillcrest and Willard with Monett (Monett was just a random local school, since we would have one less conference game), the estimated additional bus/driver cost over two years would be approximately $6,700; $3,350/year.
“Lowering standards” / “Get ready for districts”
I used a couple of situations to explain the merits, or lack thereof, of these statements. If we are IMG Academy, and students are paying to come here to get ready to go to the next level in their sport, I couldn’t agree more with the statement that “iron sharpens iron”. We should play the absolute best competition every game, every sport. However, when we are an institution designed to prepare students academically, physically and emotionally for their next step, I would suggest that most of our high school athletes are playing their sport to be with their friends, improve their skills and add to their high school experience. The student that wants to go on to be a neurosurgeon doesn’t have low standards just because they would rather enjoy their high school athletic experience.
We have been in the COC for 15 years. It is one of the toughest athletic conferences in the state. How many district championships have we won? Is there at least an argument that could be made that if we had built some confidence all year, and were less beat up, that we could approach district games differently?
This move was for football only
Football is the only sport that cannot adjust their schedule based upon the talent level at any given time. In softball, we get 30+ games. If we need to schedule tougher/lesser competition, we have 20+ non-conference games to do so. In a 10-team conference, football doesn’t have that option. So, the decision regarding scheduling is related to football. But the discussion about changing conferences also includes the idea that our junior high girls basketball team goes to Nixa and doesn’t score a point. That is tough to build confidence and a program.
We have to have parents and students invest in youth athletics
I lived in that world, and enjoyed every minute of it. But it isn’t for everyone. It took financial sacrifice at a time when it wasn’t easy for two teachers. The median household income in Ozark, Nixa and Republic is $60K+; in Neosho it is $45K. Free and reduce lunch percentage is 20-29% versus 45% in Neosho. Membership (2022 enrollment) is 4,641 in Neosho; 5,031, 5,901, 6,312 in Republic, Ozark and Nixa, respectively, and Republic is growing. It is understandable that they are going to have a greater percentage of their population whose parents invest in high-caliber athletics at an early age.
Our community has richly blessed our students with their investments over the past few years. Our students should be thankful for the sacrifice of our patrons. Students can be proud of their high school. Our community should be proud of our students
Get the old SW Conference back together
I go back even further. I played in the Big 12 and the Big 13. There are few people who would love it more than me if we could go back to those days. Imagine Friday nights against Webb City, Seneca, McDonald County, etc. We play those schools in about every sport except football. The challenges of size and existing conferences make it hard to get those schools back together. I have said for the past several years, the best thing we could do is to sit down with all of SW Missouri and rebuild conferences from scratch. That seems to be as likely as tripping on a unicorn while heading to the Neosho Chick-fil-A.
We did NOT submit an application to join the Ozark Mountain Conference by the deadline of Friday, October 20, 2023. It is our intention to stay in the COC for now. We will continue to work to build programs and support our coaches and student-athletes as they represent our school. I am proud of what our coaches stand for and how they treat our students. As for me, I will continue to advocate for students and coaches. So if I seem soft, or less than driven to be the best, you don’t know me well. However, after 25 years in this business, I do know students only have four years (six, if you include junior high) to enjoy the high school experience. Sometimes memories look different for different people.
Thanks again for participating in our survey and for your passion for NSD!
PS - The wrestling record was incorrectly stated. I’m not sure what the COC dual record is, but the overall dual record for the past 17 years is 198-14.