The Unit 9 School Board Tuesday night approved joining the Vermilion Valley Conference for the 2021-22 school year.
The measure will see the Watseka Warriors leave the Sangamon Valley Conference starting that year.
The school board approved the move 7-0.
Watseka Athletic Director Barry Bauer said Iroquois West and Cissna Park are also moving to the VVC next year.
Current schools in the VVC are Armstrong-Potomac, Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin, Chrisman, Georgetown-Ridge Farm, Hoopeston Area, Milford, Oakwood, Salt Fork, Danville Schlarman and Westville.
In another sports matter, the board Tuesday night agreed that the district will move away from the Warrior head as a mascot, but will not immediately stop using it.
“The only thing I think is that you need direction for your administrators,” Interim Superintendent Gary Miller said in the Zoom meeting.
“They just need direction on what you’re going to back them on,” he said.
“When we make a decision they want to know you’ve got their back.”
Board member Gina Greene said she would like the board to move way from the Warrior head if there is a large purchase that will be permanent or semi-permanent. “So that if legislation comes through, then we won’t have to make more financial investment in the future,” she said.
Board member Kirk McTaggart said he thought Greene’s suggestions were prudent. “I know I started this snowball rolling down the hill a meeting ago when I just suggested that we pull back the reins on our use of Native American imagery so that we can’t be told what we can and can’t do in the hopes that we can maintain the use of the word Warriors, whether or not what images we choose to use.”
Board member Rusty Maulding also said he would like for the district to move away from using the Warrior head when there are large financial investments that need to be made. “I don’t think it need to go away at this moment, but at some point it’s likely that we will be told it has to be retired, so why put us in a position to have to do a lot of changes?”
Board member Brittany Cliuver also agreed. “I don’t like that we are getting rid of it, but big purchases we’ve got to be conscious of what we’re doing,” she said.
Miller said “big purchases” mean different things to different people and asked the board to elaborate.
“Like permanent,” Cluiver said. “We talked about the gym floor. That’s something that’s not going to come around another five or seven years. That’s more permanent than a pullover jacket with a Warrior head on it that somebody’s got to buy something new, or a letterhead that has a Warrior head on it that you’re going to have to buy new stock.”
Cluver said if the administrators have questions they can talk to the board about what direction they should go.
Board president James Bruns asked WCHS Principal Carolyn Short if that was enough guidance.
“Yes,” she said. “We’ll go in the direction that you guide us. And I agree that if we do end up having to change it, the big costly items we need to start avoid using now. It will be a hard pill to swallow for a lot of the boosters, athletics, as you know. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But absolutely, we’ll follow your guidelines and we’re good.”
Bruns said, “My impression from the fellow board members is, we’re not saying totally get rid of it, just be cautious in the big ticket items.”
Miller said he went through something similar in Momence. “We came up to the agreement that we had to get read of the warrior head and the use of Redskins. We didn’t really have to do anything. It was as we got rid of uniforms; we no longer could use Redskins when we redid the gym floor like three years later. It had to go then. So we didn’t have to put any money out. That as the agreement they came up with.”
Bruns said, “I’m sure we can come up with some kind of agreement. At this point it hasn’t really been an issue but if we can avoid it being an issue, I just want to make sure the administrators feel comfortable in your support.”
Short said the discussion came up a couple of years ago. “The only thing said to me is that this issue comes up every three or four years,” she said. “So nothing’s been done since. That’s why they want to keep using it. But it’s not a problem.”