Basketball

Will the OSAA eliminate a classification in high school sports?

WILSONVILLE – Is the system broken and in need of a great overhaul?

Or is it working well and only in need of small tweaks?

Oregon’s high schools have been divided into six classifications for sports and activities for the past decade.

The Classification and Districting Committee of the Oregon School Activities Association will soon make its recommendation to the OSAA Executive Board on how to divide up the schools for the 2018-2022 time block.

Early in the current redistricting process, which began in October 2016 and concludes in October 2017, the idea of contracting Oregon’s classifications to five received a lot of support from schools in the highest classification, Class 6A.

At Monday’s meeting at the Al Kader Shrine Center, the smaller schools gave a large amount of support to keeping the current six classification model.

“Ultimately it was never broken so why change that,” Silverton assistant principal Jodi Drescher testified to the committee Monday.

Amity's Jaycen Nelson goes around a Salem Academy defender at the OSAA Class 3A state basketball tournament on Saturday, March 4, 2017.

Amity’s Jaycen Nelson goes around a Salem Academy defender at the OSAA Class 3A state basketball tournament on Saturday, March 4, 2017.

The committee plans to support either a five or six classification model following Monday’s meeting, though their decision won’t be made public until an update from the meeting is released in a few days.

McNary athletic director Ron Richards testified that since the OSAA went to six classifications there has been a decline in participation at his school.

He attributed that decline to the additional travel required for McNary, and the other Salem-Keizer high schools, to play against schools such as Redmond, Forest Grove, McMinnville and West Albany in league games.

Richards testified that the current classification system is hurting students.

“I believe it’s broken,” Richards said.

Some of the proposals from the committee thus far have placed North Salem High School in the same league as Cascade and Silverton.

It would present a major disparity in the sizes of the schools: North Salem has an adjusted average daily enrollment of 1,404 and Cascade is 683.

“That’s not healthy for us,” Cascade superintendent Darren Drill said.

Many of the proposals the committee has released have placed Salem-Keizer schools McKay, McNary, South Salem, Sprague and West Salem in a league with Bend, Mountain View and Summit.

North Salem has already been approved to play down a classification starting with the 2018-19 school year.

Marshfield athletic director Greg Mulkey, a proponent of continuing with six classifications, asked Salem-Keizer Director of High School Education Larry Ramirez – a member of the committee – if the Salem-Keizer schools want to play against schools in Bend.

“We’re not that interested in going to Bend,” Larry Ramirez replied.

In most of the five classification models released by the committee so far, the models have moved smaller schools around into big leagues with schools of disparate sizes.

In the most recent five classification model, the Class 3A classification would have schools the size of North Marion (with 530 students) with a school like Salem Academy (with 235).

That size difference concerns the smaller schools.

“I don’t think they should be making their problems our problem,” Amity Superintendent Jeff Clark testified.

bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/bpoehler