APPLETON — If there is one thing WIAA associate director Deb Hauser is tired of by now, it’s probably attempting to figure out a way to please people when it comes to high school realignment.
Just when she makes one school happy, another inevitably gets upset.
Let the games begin.
The WIAA presented some options for future realignments at its area meeting Wednesday morning at Fox Valley Lutheran High School, with at least one that has been in the discussion phase for the past few months.
That plan would be to go to an eight-year realignment rotation for the state rather than doing them region by region when potential problems with conferences develop.
Northeastern Wisconsin is at the start of a significant realignment plan that went into effect for the 2015-16 school year and impacted 84 schools and nine conferences, a plan first discussed during the 2011 and 2012 area meetings.
If the eight-year idea is approved, the conference realignment would be left to the WIAA with no opportunity for schools to be in on the discussion.
It doesn’t mean that all conferences would have to be changed every eight years, just that the possibility exists.
“If we look at the pros, it’s that we can look at the entire state,” Hauser said. “We would know the timetable. Instead of us sitting here today wondering who is going to stand up and raise their hand for realignment, we would know a definitive timeline. We would roll that out in Year 6, so that you’d have two years to plan for your nonconference football (scheduling).”
Some of the drawbacks?
Schools that are happy with their current conference could be moved out of it. Hauser expressed concern, like she did in July, about the costs associated for schools to purchase new banners and other signs to reflect conference affiliation along with other issues that include appointing a league commissioner.
An even bigger problem could be the length of time between realignment. A lot can happen in eight years.
The Packerland Conference, for instance, is struggling to find enough nonconference games for football since five of its schools play 11-man football and three play 8-man.
Should a conference suffer those types of issues at the start of an eight-year realignment plan, it would have to wait years for things to get better.
“I think most people like the idea of a set time frame, that this happens at this time and it runs for this long,” Bay Port athletic director Otis Chambers said. “I think most people would not argue with that.
“The problem with that is the dynamics of a school or a school district can change drastically during an eight-year span. If you have a school district whose enrollment drops significantly in a four-year period, you’re locked.”
A better solution might be as simple as making it more difficult for a school to request realignment.
At the end of the meetings Wednesday, Peshtigo requested to move from the Marinette-Oconto Conference to the Packerland.
With that request, Hauser has to at least spend time looking into the possibility.
Perhaps requiring a school to get conference permission to move is the first step, followed by appearing in front of a regional committee or the Board of Control to state its case.
That idea appeared to be favored by a few more people at FVL than the eight-year plan, at least for those who chose to raise their hand in a rather unscientific poll.
Ultimately what could hold up any new idea is what often holds them up: Personal interests.
“The problem we have with the WIAA at times is not any different than other organizations,” Chambers said. “It becomes a, ‘Unless it affects me, I’m not worried about it’ type of attitude. When it affects me, then I’m in an uproar about it.
“I think it’s a great idea they put a landfill in the Town of Scott, as long as they don’t put it in my backyard. That’s the problem sometimes when we tackle an issue that’s a statewide issue.”