Bend schools still heading to IMC in latest OSAA proposal
The OSAA released its newest redistricting proposal on Wednesday, and it is looking more and more likely that Crook County will have some new bedfellows in the Intermountain Conference.
Over the past few months, the OSAA's Classification and Districting Committee has met five times to discuss how the state's high schools will be divided up for athletics over the next four years. At first, the committee was looking at possibly reducing the number of total classifications from six to five. However, subsequent drafts of the redistricting plan have ditched any plans for a five-class system.
Instead, the committee is moving forward with retaining all six of the existing classifications; the teams within those classes are going to change, though.
One of the major recent changes in the statewide redistricting talks revolves around four Bend schools. Bend High, Mountain View, Summit and Caldera — the newest high school in Bend — are all currently in the 6A classification, thanks to one of the major criteria for determining classification is school size, Average Daily Membership, or ADM.
The calculation of ADM results in a projection of how many students will be in the school in a given year. However, because the redistricting plan will be in effect for four academic years, the ADM calculations project even further out. With Caldera expected to funnel students away from the other high schools in Bend over the coming years, all four institutions are now projected to fall under the ADM threshold for the 6A classification.
As a result, those schools will be moved down to the 5A classification and placed in the Intermountain Conference with Crook County, Redmond and Ridgeview. The resulting seven-team league would make for a much more travel-friendly schedule for each school. As it stands, the Bend schools currently have to travel to Salem for many of their league games, while the Prineville and Redmond schools currently must trek north to the Columbia Gorge and all the way east to Pendleton.
While travel would be much easier for all parties in a geographically condensed IMC, issues with competitive balance could cause problems for some schools. In particular, Crook County — which already plays down a level in football and has struggled on the soccer pitch in its current league — would be the smallest school in the league by far.
To make room for the Bend schools, those three teams along the Gorge are being moved. Hood River Valley would remain in 5A, but the Eagles would be heading to the Northwest Oregon Conference to play against teams closer to the Portland metro area. As for Pendleton and The Dalles, both schools would be brought down to the 4A classification. Pendleton would play in a four-team Greater Oregon League with Baker, La Grande and Ontario, whereas The Dalles would join the Tri-Valley league to play against Madras and other schools from the East Portland suburbs.
The proposal to add the Bend schools to the IMC was made in the Oct. 13 draft of the reclassification plan, and the committee did not hear any testimony at the Nov. 1 meeting to deter them from this path. There were only three minor changes following the most recent meeting, and none involved
The OSAA Classification and Districting Committee will meet once more on Monday, Nov. 22, to hear testimony and feedback on the final draft proposal. Following that meeting, the finalized classification and districting plan for 2022-2026 will be released.
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