Top of Iowa Conference discusses realignment, no changes made; talks will continue 

After months of speculation, the Top of Iowa conference has released that realignment and its future are a topic of discussion.

KIOW first reported yesterday that a meeting took place where conference athletic directors and superintendents discussed multiple topics, including the conference’s future. The conference confirmed the session with a press release Thursday morning.

“Superintendents and athletic directors representing the 18 school districts that make up the “Top of Iowa” athletic conference met today to discuss the future of the conference,” the release stated.

Among the school representatives, Sam Miller, the chief administrator of Central Rivers Area Education Agency, was in attendance to facilitate the meeting. According to the AEA, Miller’s experience is LEA/AEA relations, bond issue/PPEL campaigns, leadership development, legislation, organizational development, school board retreats, and school reorganization.

“This meeting was a great opportunity to get everyone in the same room to talk through the issues and get on the same page with respect to our future as a conference,” said Darwin Lehmann, superintendent at Forest City Community School District and Central Springs Community School District. “I think it’s safe to say that we are all committed to working together to continue to strengthen our conference while at the same time carefully reviewing any potential concerns that a school may have.”

The Top of Iowa conference started competition in the 2015-2016 school year, and now, less than a decade later, changes to its membership are becoming more apparent. “During the meeting, the group assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the current conference configuration as well as potential opportunities that may exist in making alterations,” the press release stated.

If alterations are made, they likely will be in response to imminent movement in neighboring conferences’ such as the Northeast Iowa Conference, which is weeks away from removing Waverly-Shell Rock – leaving the conference with only five members. Three of those members have open invitations to the Upper Iowa Conference but have stated interest in keeping the NEIC viable. That would mean at least one outside school district would need to replace Waverley-Shell Rock. Adding multiple schools would improve confidence in the long-term success of its new core.

Osage was a founding member of the Northeast Iowa conference in 1920 but left after the 1957-1958 school year for the North Iowa Conference. Oelwein just recently left the Northeast Iowa conference for the North Iowa Cedar League partly due to Waverley-Shell Rock’s size towering over them. Sumner-Fredericksburg is another school that geographically fits the NEIC. Though no school has made mention of making a move, nor has the NEIC officially invited any school to join the conference.


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