Albert Lea school board unanimously votes to not pay extra MSHSL fees

Published 1:45 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2020

At a meeting held Monday night, the Albert Lea school board voted unanimously to forgo paying the additional fees imposed by the Minnesota State High School League earlier this school year.

The new fees totaled $9,000 and were split into two payments of $4,500 each — the first of which was due by the end of December, with the second installment coming due at the end of February.

The fees are on top of the membership dues that are paid by the school. The $9,000 was added by the MSHSL as a pair of “COVID-19 fees.” The district paid its annual membership dues earlier this year.

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According to Albert Lea Superintendent Mike Funk, a letter was sent to the MSHSL several months ago raising some concerns the board had about the new fees. The board received a response from MSHSL Executive Director Erich Martens, however, felt that the response failed to address a number of their concerns.

Board member Kim Nelson made the motion to not pay the fees.

“Based on the inquiries and the FAQ that was supposed to come out answering very direct questions back in November — I haven’t seen any FAQs and I haven’t received any kind of correspondence.” Nelson said. “That’s why I made the motion. I feel like we have paid the membership dues, and the fees are in addition to that, and at this time we just have not been given good feedback or a response from them.”

Board Chairman Dave Klatt raised  the concern that not paying the fees may have a negative impact on scheduling games with other schools. Klatt said some schools may be hesitant to schedule games against Albert Lea based on potential penalties from the league.

“We have met the contractual requirement as stated within their operating constitution,” Funk said. “There’s nothing in their constitution that allows them to charge additional fees or exclude the district from the high school league for not paying those additional fees.”

Board member Ken Petersen also voiced his support for not paying the fees.

“I think our statement will be made when (the fees) are not paid,” Petersen said. “We’ve paid our initial fee, we feel we’ve met our obligation. They have not answered our questions.”

Due to the current pause on youth sports in Minnesota and Albert Lea currently being in a distance-learning model, the next game scheduled for the Tigers will not be able to take place until after the week of Jan. 11.

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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