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Schools' message: No new league.

Byline: Steve Mims and Anne Williams The Register-Guard

Representatives of Sheldon and South Eugene high schools will try Monday to head off a change in athletic districts that would move the schools to a new league with high schools from Roseburg and southern Oregon.

The Oregon School Activities Association's executive board will vote on a new six-classification proposal for prep sports when it meets Monday at 9 a.m. at the Holiday Inn in Wilsonville.

If approved, the recommendation would break up the Midwestern League by sending Sheldon and South Eugene into a Class 6A league with Roseburg, South Medford, North Medford and Grants Pass.

That plan has drawn objections from officials at South Eugene and Sheldon who say that longer road trips would at least triple the travel budget for both athletic departments while also increasing the amount of missed class time for student-athletes.

The board will formally receive the final recommendation of its classification and districting committee, which was made public last month. It calls for the current four-classification system to be expanded to six classes in an attempt to improve competitive balance by shrinking the enrollment gap between schools in the same classification.

There will be an opportunity for public testimony after the board receives the recommendation. Representatives of those two schools are expected to speak out against the proposal.

Laurie Moses, the Eugene School District director of high school services, will introduce Sheldon booster club President Jon Buerstatte and South Eugene sophomore Brandyn Salazar, who plays football and baseball. The schools' principals decided on this approach to lobby the board.

"We kind of thought that maybe rather than having an administrator do all the talking, let's hear from the people from our community," South Eugene Principal Randy Bernstein said.

The OSAA received 22 requests from schools asking to be moved into either a different classification or district after the recommendation was released.

One of those requests came in the form of a declaration from Churchill, North Eugene, Springfield, Thurston, and Willamette high schools that stated all five schools would like to be moved up from 5A to 6A if they are put into a league with Sheldon and South Eugene. If the committee does not place them in a league with those two schools, the five will remain at the 5A level.

The only other local school to request a change was Mohawk, which would like to remain at the 1A level instead of being moved up to 2A.

The executive board will review each request before taking a final vote.

The 12-member executive board consists of seven school superintendents as well as one representative each from the Oregon School Boards Association, Oregon Athletic Directors Association, Oregon Athletic Coaches Association, Oregon Athletic Officials Association, and an activities representative.

The process is not over once the executive board approves a set of classifications and districts.

If the executive board votes to change the current four-classification system, then the OSAA delegate assembly must approve the new cutoff points for the classifications and districts because that would require a change to the organization's constitution. The delegate assembly will meet at 1 p.m. at the Holiday Inn to vote on any changes made to the constitution.

The 35-member delegate assembly includes all 12 executive board members; it rarely reverses a decision of the board. The assembly includes representatives of all 30 athletic districts.
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Title Annotation:Sports; Sheldon and South Eugene will challenge a change in prep sports divisions
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 22, 2005
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