Struggling with persistent low enrollment, Libby High School’s sports teams, except soccer, will be moving to Class B in the 2015-16 school year.
The Libby School District board of trustees voted 5-2 Monday night to approve the transition from Class A despite a majority of administrators, coaches and students wanting to remain in the higher classification of athletic competition.
“The board felt strongly that they don’t see our numbers getting better and that this was the right move,” said Jim Germany, principal at Libby High School.
The Montana High School Association has determined the enrollment range for Class B schools to be 120-399 students. Class A enrollment ranges from 340 to 825 students.
Libby had a fall enrollment of 348 students and a spring enrollment of 338, making the school one of the smallest in Class A. Projections for the next few years show the school will remain around 340-350 students, Germany said.
Despite that, Germany said nine of the 13 coaches at the high school were in favor of remaining in Class A and 65 percent of students wanted to stay in the higher ranks. School administrators recommended staying in Class A to the school board.
The boys and girls soccer teams will remain in Class A competition similar to Bigfork.
The move will shake up the Northwestern A conference in an uncertain way while Libby will join District 7B, home to Eureka, Thompson Falls, Bigfork, Troy and Plains. Northwestern A is now left with only four teams: Columbia Falls, Whitefish, Frenchtown and Polson.
Libby’s move to the Class B ranks marks the second school in the state to have gone from competing in Class AA at one point to now dropping two classifications; Anaconda’s school board voted 6-1 earlier this month to drop to Class B.
Libby moved from Class AA to Class A in 1987.
Glendive, another small Class A school, opted to avoid the move to Class B.
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