Monday, May 20, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
December 11, 2012
The Oregon School Activities Association is early in its inevitable task of re-examining its classification system used by state high schools, mostly for athletic competition. During this review process we hope the OSAA's Classification and Districting Committee takes a hard look at a much-needed revamp of the current system.
When the OSAA expanded the number of classifications from four to six beginning with the 2006-07 school year, the rationale behind the decision was competitive balance. Many schools were having to compete against schools with far greater enrollments, putting the smaller schools at a disadvantage. To this effect, the six-class system has been a success: More schools are having the opportunity to qualify for the postseason and play for state championships.
But the six-classification model as a whole hasn't worked. It has created scheduling headaches for some school districts, left some leagues with too few teams, added to transportation expenses and, though more schools do qualify for postseason competition, weakened state playoff structures and taken inclusiveness and political correctness to an extreme.
One of the key points being addressed during the current review is money -- or a lack of it. School finances are getting tighter and tighter and athletics and other extracurricular activities could be at the forefront of budget cuts as districts across Oregon deal with a sharp rise in Public Employee Retirement System payments and other human resource costs this next year.
Going back to the old four-classification model would be too extreme at this time -- and unfair for many schools. But a five classification system that also reels in the number of teams that qualify for play-in rounds and postseason play would benefit state schools and those in Polk County as a whole.
One scenario being debated statewide is a five-class system that would split up the top class into two divisions for football only to address enrollment discrepancies and related safety concerns.
The committee met for the third time Monday and will meet six more times, the next on Jan. 28. Any changes made won't take affect until the 2014-15 school year.
No matter what the OSAA decides, it won't make everyone happy -- we've learned that from past reclassification changes. But scaling back to a five classification model is a step in the right direction to return some sanity to prep sports in Oregon and one the OSAA should take.