OSAA sets HRV appeal

For Hood River Valley High School, a tale of two meetings comes to Wilsonville and Hood River early next month.

District officials are hoping for the best of times as it pleads to two state bodies the December 2001 decision by Oregon School Activities Association to move HRVHS to the Intermountain Conference.

The district will ask the OSAA executive board on Feb. 4 to reconsider its decision to move HRVHS out of the Mt. Hood Conference to the Intermountain Conference, which was based upon a recommendation by the OSAA's redistricting committee.

This will be the first case that OSAA officials know of a decision by the executive board being brought back for reconsideration. The OSAA has never overturned one of its own decisions.

"I don't ever remember a request being made to reconsider the decisions that are made," OSAA executive director Tom Welter said Friday. "Our board has an obligation to listen (to the request) as it would any other school on any other issue." Welter said it is possible that a motion could be made, and voted upon, to rescind the redistricting committee's decision.

On Feb, 8 at 1 p.m., hearings officer Michael Reed, appointed by the state Department of Education will hear the district's appeal of the OSAA move. The hearing of the OSAA decision is also believed to be a precedent. It will be at the school district office.

Hood River Superintendent Jerry Sessions, who will speak on Feb. 4, hopes the Feb. 8 hearing will be rendered unnecessary, based on successful appeal to the OSAA board.

"I'm going to tell them that people are telling us how it will affect rather than what they've heard from us before -- how they think it will."

Sessions said a recent poll of HRV student athletes showed 75 percent opposed to the move to the IMC. Thirty percent of athletes said they will will not play if HRVHS is moved to the new conference.

Athletes and parents have opposed the IMC move because of longer travel distances and times and the increased need for overnight stays and weekend trips to Pendleton, Bend, Redmond, Hermiston, or Prineville, where the existing IMC schools are located.

The district predicts the move would cost an additional $30,000 annually because of transportation and lodging costs, yet district budget constraints limit the 2002-03 spending to current levels. That would likely mean some cutbacks in the athletic programs.

Both Welter and the chair of the redistricting committee expressed sympathy with the Hood River stance.

"I think they're passionate about it and trying to look out for what they deem to be in the best interests of the community," Welter said.

"I understand their position," said Barry Rotrock, superintendent of Oregon City School District. "We talked about it for hours and hours. I think everyone on the committee understood it was not a good deal for Hood River. "We understood the financial and time out of classroom impacts, and all those issues for Hood River," Rotrock said. "But the lions' share of the evidence was that the move was better for the whole, in other words for the group of schools in the state. That was our charge.

"We have to make a decision that is best for the entire OSAA organization," he said. "If I were in their (Hood River schools') position I'd be appealing, too, but when you run out of appeals the only thing you can do is say is `if we look at the big picture it makes the whole thing work better'," Rotrock said.

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