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| SUBMITTED: OCTOBER 21, 2007 6:41 P.M. |
Dear Minnesota Chess colleagues,
A proposal—see attachment—has been submitted to the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) to amend their bylaws to include chess as a sanctioned activity of the MSHSL. We the Minnesota scholastic chess community need to meet regarding this proposal, to discuss its ramifications, to answer questions, and to plan for what lies ahead.
In a previous message of about two weeks ago, you saw some proposed dates for this meeting. Because the previously proposed dates proved unworkable, however, and in order to give everyone a little more time to plan ahead, here is a new proposed time. Please let me know right away if there is a compelling reason to avoid this date and we’ll choose a new one, but right now this date looks free from conflicts with chess events and holidays. It is a little less than three weeks away.
The following is proposed—
What: Meeting of the Minnesota scholastic chess community
When: Friday, November 9, 2007, 7:00 p.m.
Why: Review proposal to the MSHSL—what has been done to date?
Answer questions—how would MSHSL sanction affect your program and scholastic chess in Minnesota?
Plan ahead—what happens from here and how can you help?
All of you have a stake in the outcome of this initiative, and we urge you or a representative of your school to attend this meeting if at all possible. Feedback so far has been strongly in favor of getting chess recognized as an official activity, but a lot of work lies ahead for approval to actually be obtained. In addition, some questions have rightly been raised about what the impact of MSHSL approval would be on existing programs. This meeting will be important both for addressing questions and to organize for the road ahead, so please plan to be with us!
NOTE TO MIDDLE SCHOOL/JUNIOR HIGH AND ELEMENTARY CHESS COACHES: While this proposal is specific to high school chess, we expect the benefits of official recognition of chess at the high school level to extend to your players as well. We believe that MSHSL sanction would provide added incentive for school boards to support school chess programs at all age levels. If we are correct, then this initiative will lead to the establishment of new chess programs throughout the state, and those of you with existing programs at lower grade levels but not in your high schools may finally see that opportunity continue for your students when they leave your clubs.
We look forward to your responses. On behalf of all who have contributed so far,
| SUBMITTED: OCTOBER 7, 2007 9:43 A.M. |
Dear chess colleagues,
Attached is the final version of the proposal to be submitted to the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) for the addition of chess as a MSHSL fine arts activity. So that you have the best possible understanding of what is being done and what it will mean to your scholastic chess program, l am also including two additional items for your information, a Q& A document answering frequently asked questions regarding MSHSL sanction (i.e., approval), and a page from the MSHSL handbook detailing the approval process. If the proposal looks rather sketchy, by the way, that’s exactly how it is supposed to look. The MSHSL executive director has reviewed the proposal and pronounced it complete. Details of rules, procedures, and formats get worked out later if a new activity is actually approved.
The proposal will be submitted either this coming Friday, October 12 or the following Monday, October 15 (which is the deadline day), together with a cover letter still in preparation. Five schools must sign the proposal and submit it by the deadline, and we believe that we have the necessary number of schools plus a couple more for good measure. However, if you would like to add a signed proposal from your school, we'd love to add yours--the more the better! Schools that we currently expect to provide signed copies of the proposal are:
v Moundsview H.S.
v Columbia Heights H.S.
v Park Center H.S.
v Woodbury H.S.
v Totino-Grace H.S.
v RochesterLourdes H.S.
v RochesterCentury H.S.
v Stewartville H.S.
There will be a meeting this coming Thursday, October 11, at Metcalf Junior High School in Burnsville to collect signed copies of the proposal and to talk a little about what's next. All of you are welcome to attend, although the critical business is really just to gather the proposals.
If you want to add your school as a signer, START EARLY THIS WEEK in order to get a signature on the attached proposal. Each school has certain designated representatives to the MSHSL (usually one school board member and another person such as an athletic director, school superintendent, etc.) who are authorized signers, but they don't do this kind of thing every day, and I had trouble at my own school finding out who is authorized to sign. I am checking with MSHSL to find out whether or not faxed copies or e-mail scans are acceptable for
submission, but to be safe I’d plan to have your original copy at Thursday’s meeting if you want it included.
Here's advance notice of the NEXT meeting--WE NEED YOUR HELP!!! We've had plenty of sympathy for the cause but few people actually signing on to help, and we're really going to need more participation in the effort than we've had so far. Submitting a proposal is the relatively easy part. What we'll need now is to educate--and yes, lobby to an extent--the members of MSHSL's 16 region committees so that they know why adding chess is a great idea.
We should meet in either the last week of October or the first week of November to map out the next steps. (See "Representative Assembly Process.pdf" for details of the process.) If you want to see chess as a MSHSL activity, please plan to join us. I propose the following possible days--please reply to indicate what days are best and whether there are any days that there's a definite reason to avoid. We'll choose ONE of these as our meeting time within the next few days. Proposed meeting times are:
Thursday, October 25 (6:30 or 7:00 p.m.)
Friday, October 26 (6:30 or 7:00 p.m.)
Thursday, November 1 (6:30 or 7:00 p.m.)
Friday, November 2 (6:30 or 7:00 p.m.)
Saturday, November 3 (9:00 a.m.)
I will look forward to your replies!
All best regards,
507-284-1990 (day), 507-533-6466 (home)
| SUBMITTED: SEPTEMBER 14, 2007 2:00 P.M. |
Dear Chess Colleagues,
This is not the comprehensive summary of last Friday’s meeting that I plan to send out, but as I anticipated it’s been a very crazy week, and I want you to have at least some idea before the weekend comes of what transpired in the meeting. So, here’s the Reader’s Digest version!
Attending the meeting were:
- Alex Adams
- Bill Heinemann
- Brian Ribnick
- Dennis Mays
- Frank Jowitt
- Jeff Ballew
- John Flores
- Matt Jensen
- Pat LaVone
Discussion centered on two key issues:
- Is there strong general support for pursuing sanction (that is, official approval) of chess as an activity of the Minnesota State High School League?
- Are there enough schools that would commit to participating in a MSHSL state chess tournament to justify making a proposal at this time?
All present felt that MSHSL sanction is a good idea, likely to result within a few years in significantly more Minnesota high schools supporting programs than we already have, and through a trickle-down effect also boosting chess at all other age levels. Concerns were expressed by Jeff Ballew and others about whether this is the right time to go forward. A state tournament will only be run by MSHSL if there are at least 32 schools participating. Can we deliver 32 teams? There was also discussion about making sure that the Minnesota scholastic chess community (you!) have enough information to make an educated determination about supporting a proposal if it goes forward. Specific questions that have been raised include:
- What would be the effect of sanction/approval on cost to schools? This is a vital issue to many districts.
- What exactly would be the MSHSL role if chess became one of their activities? How does that impact the present high school chess leagues?
- Filing a proposal with the MSHSL requires a minimum of 5 sponsoring schools and is relatively easy to do right now. In addition, sanction would not take effect until the 2008-2009 school year and the first tournament would be in the spring of 2009. At what point would the MSHSL want to have commitments from at least 32 schools to participate in the tournament?
There was some discussion about the meaning of “League” in “Minnesota State High School League”. Jeff Ballew pointed out the Minnesota State High School League is an administrative association of all schools in Minnesota, NOT a competitive league, and that a more appropriate (and less confusing) name might be “Minnesota State High School Association”. The MSHSL is an administrative and governing body and would in no way replace the existing high school leagues. It would provide a uniform set of rules for competition and sponsor the state tournament. The existing leagues
would be as important as ever. There was also discussion about pre-high school chess. MSHSL jurisdiction would extend only to high school chess. Middle school/junior high and elementary chess would have no constraints or guidance from MSHSL and could continue organize as they see fit. The only relationship that MSHSL would have to pre-high school students would be with younger students who play as part of a high school team. These students would participate under the same rules as high school students, similarly to pre-high school students who participate on high school sports teams. Conclusions:
- We should prepare a proposal under the assumption that we will submit it for this year’s
October 15 deadline (just over 4 weeks from today). We should revisit this in four weeks and make a final decision about submitting.
- We should get answers to the questions noted above.
- We should educate the scholastic chess community by sharing all available information with them.
- We should consult with the organizer of the Minnesota High School Chess League, Chris Sawyer, to keep him fully apprised of our progress and the answers to our questions.
- IF we go forward, we should be prepared for a LOT of work to ensure that the magic number
of 32 teams is not an issue. (We had 41 schools with players participating in last year’s state individual/team tournament, but some of them had only 1-3 students.) This may involve recruiting, making chess coaching available to schools that want to get started, or even assembling information packets or online resources to help schools with their chess programs.
More later when I have more time. I will try to send out an information sheet sometime next week.
Stewartville Schools Chess