Salem-Keizer District appeals new OSAA classification

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- OSAA's proposed classifications drew plenty of criticism from Salem-Keizer parents and officials when it was announced back in October.

Now, months later, the school district is appealing the decision that would force 5 of its 6A schools to share a conference with 3 schools in Bend, raising concerns about routinely trips over the Santiam Pass and games over 100 miles away. 

Salem-Keizer presented its argument against the proposed 4-year OSAA classifications on Monday, citing the impact it'll have on students and the pressure it'll place on the district's finances. 

"That means getting kids back from sports contests after midnight, after being gone starting at noon, with an average of 58 bus trips times 5 schools," said Paul Dakopolos, the lawyer for the school district. "That's 290 bus trips to Bend each year."

The Judge will need 10-14 days to reach a decision, according to the Salem-Keizer School District

Lawyer Jonathan Radmacher, representing OSAA, said the classification doesn't take into consideration creative scheduling, something OSAA Executive Director Pete Weber said back in October. Radmacher said creative scheduling could cut the travel schedule "by almost one-third."

"We have a number of schools even at the 6A level with our Medford and Southern Oregon schools in a league with schools in Eugene, and those are long trips, as well," Weber said on Oct. 17. "And they've had to get creative as in many of our small schools in terms of how they schedule ...creative in terms of looking like bringing 3 teams to a site so you get games done instead of doing them on multiple days."

Still, a 6-hour roundtrip through the mountains in winter has parents worried.

"We have a number of schools that travel over the mountains and I think what we rely on is our school and our school administrators making the right call in those situations," Weber said in October. "And if there are concerns about potential snowstorm or what that may be, then you reschedule the game." 

The financial implications are something the district wants OSAA to consider, as well. 

 "We're looking at $700,000 annually in our budget for buses, transportation for student athletes, support services and the staff that go along with them," Lillian Govus, a spokeswoman for the district, said in October.

The Bend-La Pine School District, with its schools moving up from 5A to 6A, are not appealing the decision.

Below is the proposed reclassification for The Greater Valley League. Here's a link to the full proposed classifications.

6A-5 - Greater Valley League
Bend Lava Bears
McKay Scots
McNary Celtics
Mountain View Cougars
North Salem Vikings
South Salem Saxons
Sprague Olympians
Summit Storm
West Salem Titans


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