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High schools: Six private schools leaving Tri-Metro Conference

Six members of the Tri-Metro Conference announced at a league meeting Wednesday they will leave the conference in the 2013-14 school year to play independent athletic schedules.

The schools, all private, are: Blake, Breck, Minnehaha Academy, Mounds Park Academy, St. Paul Academy and Providence Academy.

The Minnesota State High School League voted last week to add three schools — Columbia Heights, Fridley and Holy Angels — to the Tri-Metro’s 13 member schools to create a 16-team conference next year.

One athletic director said the six private schools leaving are doing so because of competitive imbalances and enrollment disparities — and that the MSHSL’s move last week only exasperated the problem.

“When the MSHSL put the three schools in our conference, that gave us 16, and we knew change was imminent. It was clear the conference was too large,” Minnehaha Academy AD Homar Ramirez said. “Moving forward, six of us going independent was the best move in the interest of all the schools.”

The 10 remaining schools are Brooklyn Center, Concordia Academy, DeLaSalle, St. Agnes, St. Anthony, Saint Croix Lutheran and Visitation, plus the three added by the MSHSL last week.

Those schools will meet again next week to discuss their next move.

“We have been discussing the competitive imbalance for years, and we have been spinning our wheels,” said St. Agnes AD Mike Streitz, whose school hosted Wednesday’s meeting. “On the bright side, I’m glad people made a decision today so we can move on.”

The current 13-team conference features two public schools — Brooklyn Center and St. Anthony — and 11 private schools. Enrollments range from 664 students at Visitation to 202 at Mounds Park Academy. Of the three schools added by the MSHSL, two are public and one private. Their enrollments range from 691 at Holy Angels to 594 at Columbia Heights.

One source said the six schools that are leaving have conducted previous meetings to discuss their plans, and they agreed to be scheduling partners in the future.

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