West Valley High School will remain in the state’s new 3A classification - and the Frontier League - at least for now.
At a hearing this month of its appeal to the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association, WV officials learned that alternative school students who come from outside the district’s enrollment boundaries will no longer count in school enrollment.
That left West Valley High with 112 fewer students in its official count. But the adjusted total of 644 students still puts the school above the limit of 600 that separates 3A schools from 2A schools.
“What it did,” said athletic director Wayne McKnight, “was crack a door open.”
Next spring, McKnight plans to introduce a written amendment to the WIAA representative assembly to separate alternative and regular high school enrollment counts.
The argument is that although those students count on enrollment, they do not participate in regular school activities programs. The amendment would be predicated upon alternative schools forming their own sports programs and leagues.
Should McKnight’s proposal be approved, WV’s enrollment would be reduced by an another 86 students. Since that would put WV below the 600-student limit, it could then drop into the 2A category.
The proposal would also affect enrollments at other high schools that currently count alternative students, including East Valley High. Such a change could keep East Valley at the 3A level indefinitely.
The WIAA’s new classification system, which takes effect next year, has been troublesome for the Frontier League schools.
“What I think their purpose was,” said McKnight, “is that by moving the numbers it would stabilize leagues in the I-5 corridor (in western Washington) and supposedly help the Mid-Valley League.”
Under the previous classifications, said McKnight, the Frontier League was set to grow to as many as nine schools.
Under the new classification, next year it will be either four or five schools.
“At least in the eyes of the Frontier, the re-classification was very unnecessary,” said McKnight. “We were much better off with the old system.”
The ability to option up in class, he said, has harmed the Frontier.
“If everybody played without opting up, people wouldn’t get left out and there would be a wonderful 3A league,” said McKnight.
His proposed amendment, said McKnight, will enable West Valley to explore another option to assure its athletic future.
“The reality is, when you’re making major change,” he said, “You look at all possibilities.”