New Salem not likely to follow Eagle Ridge into state organiza

Sunday, April 14, 2002

MARBLE HILL, Mo. -- New Salem Baptist Academy athletic director Ken Jones said his school would like to follow Eagle Ridge Christian's lead and join the Missouri State High School Athletic Association, but finds its path hampered by finances.

Schools must first be accredited by an organization recognized by MSHSAA, a process that can be expensive, mostly because of the cost of using certified teachers.

"Unless we raise tuition where people can't afford it, we're stuck where we're at," Jones said. "Eagle Ridge may be able to get to that level quicker than us. For a rural school, that's almost impossible."

Tuition to attend New Salem is $1,000 per year and reaches a maximum of $2,500 a family. By comparison, Eagle Ridge charges $2,800 per student at the high school and junior high levels and $2,500 for elementary students. It has a $200 discount for multiple kids.

Losing a nearby game

New Salem, with an enrollment of 96 for grades K-12, competes in the Ozark Christian Athletic Conference with Eagle Ridge and Southern Missouri Christian of Poplar Bluff, Mo. Since MSHSAA, like most other state associations, does not allow members to play non-member schools, New Salem will lose its closest opponent.

Jones said he understands why Eagle Ridge plans to join MSHSAA, since his school encounters the same travel problems. The situation of not being able to play MSHSAA members is frustrating.

"We're competing against these schools at the elementary level, but then MSHSAA steps in and says, 'No, they can never play you again.'"

The only hope Jones sees on the horizon is if MSHSAA approves associate membership, which would allow schools like New Salem to play MSHSAA members.

"That would help us tremendously," Jones said.

MSHSAA recently included associate membership on a questionnaire sent to members to gauge interest, but the responses didn't indicate enough support to warrant putting the issue on its spring ballot.

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