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Hot Topics Blog: What's your advice on OSAA for Susan Castillo? Print E-mail

osaa-logo The debate that has raged between some of Oregon's largest school districts and the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) is about to be resolved.

Signs of the solution appeared yesterday when a Department of Justice hearings officer found in favor of the new 6-class plan developed by the OSAA.  The decision came after a hearing where three districts -- Eugene, Salem-Keizer and Medford -- argued the plan would negatively affect coaches, student-athletes and parents.

They also argued the plan was done under rules not approved by the state Board of Education.  The hearings officer found otherwise and said the plan is consistent with OSAA criteria and was not arbitrary, capricious or inconsistent with OSAA by-laws.

The issue now goes to Superintendent of Public Education Susan Castillo. The hearings officer's advice to Castillo is to uphold the OSAA plan. The three districts have until Friday at 5 p.m. to file exceptions to the hearings officer's ruling.

After that it's up to Superintendent Castillo.  What's your advice for her? Please share it in this blog and we'll get it to her before she makes a decision.

Comments (24)Add Comment
written by Monica Lawson, May 31, 2006
Small schools have had to travel great distances for years to participate in sports. We didn't hear any uproar for large districts then. Is it good for kids? Does it balance out the playing field to make competition more equitable? If yes, it should be upheld. If no, why would it even be considered?
written by Beau Horn, May 31, 2006
I believe that the viability of OSAA is at stake here. If the state supt. overturns a decision that followed a thorough process involving many stakeholders, then why have the OSAA? Are they not the body that is charged with overseeing school activities for the state? Overturning their decision/plan will also open the door for other interest groups to challenge unpopular rulings they may make in the future.

Respect their decision and honor the process it was made in.
written by Dennis Dempsey, May 31, 2006
It seems that due diligence has been completed in this process and we need to support the decision of the OSAA. I am very confused by all of consternation over the change in travel for some of these large schools. No one seemed concerned 12 years ago when Sisters High School was moved up two years early to the 3A classification. This decision meant that Sisters HS had to travel over the mountains in the winter to 6 others schools. It also meant that 6 other 3A schools had to come to Sisters over the mountains in the winter and miss additional school time for travel. There is no perfect system for the organization of school activities. But it seems to me that quite a bit of work, effort and feedback went into this decision that was made by OSAA and it should be supported at this time by everyone involved.
South Albany High School Principal
written by J. Chris Equinoa, May 31, 2006
After all is said and done, it was gratifying to see the hearing officer uphold the professional hard work of dedicated school officials seeking to provide the best, possible opportunity for athletic and activity parity for Oregon students.

As a part of that long process, I take great pleasure in saying that I am part of that positive change for the youth of our state. Three cheers for the fair decision! My hope is that Susan will confirm the work of the many for the many students who will benefit.
6 classification system
written by Don Alexander, May 31, 2006
It is time to proceed with the 6 classification system. 3 Districts should never have been able to hold all other Distircts up on this. There was plenty of time to give comment. It was done with full approval of the Delegate assembly. The travel for the 3 Districts is no more than it is for a large number of small school Districts in this state. We have spent way too much money on a issue that should never have gotten this far in the first place.
Pendleton High School
written by Tom Lovell, May 31, 2006
Hopefully this is one step closer to being a final decision. It's gone on long enough.

I really felt last fall that this had been a very fair process, with everyone getting the chance to put in their two cents worth. Yes, some people and some schools were not happy with the final decision, but that is to be expected whenever tough decisions are to be made.

But the decision is for what's best for all schools across the state, not just a few. Everyone had their say, a decision was made, can we please move on?
Assistant Principal Siuslaw School Distr
written by Wanda Risley, May 31, 2006
I believe taking time away from academics, more dangerous travel time, breaking up communities, spending more educational dollars, using in excess gasoline far out way the need for more competition in sports.

My children grew up in Eugene and played sports. But more important than that I knew where they were on Friday nights, at their schools football, basketball, soccor etc game. Kids need healthy activites. LOCAL school sports provide this healthy activity. Sports is so much more than competitiion, which I believe is what this particualr change is ALL about. The last South basketball game (at Churchill) I went to was full of students and families cheering on the local team. This opportunity will go away under the new configuration.

There is continual discussion about young people and their apathy, lack of connectiveness, time spent with families. This change supports the contiued breakdown of communities and families.

I strongly disagree with taking schools out of their communities to play other school for the sake of competition.
Good Decision! Superintendent Castillo,
written by Blake Carlsen, May 31, 2006
It is time to get this behind us. It has been in the works for at least 2 years now. Everything has been found legal and proper. This needs approved and let's move on. Remember, what three districts deem detrimental, the rest of the state is ready to accept and/or see it as an improvement.
written by Scott Langkamp, May 31, 2006
Dear Superintendent Castillo,

This is a complex argument with no easy solutions; I don't envy you making this decision. However, most if not all of the Eastern Oregon schools have been traveling much farther than is proposed by the redistricting plan presented by OSAA. In fact, this is a way of life for us. Our district and league travel long distances in all kinds of adverse weather; we don't like it but it is what we have to do to provide sports for our students. It is not uncommon to travel over 100 miles, one way, to play ball. In fact, one team in our league is close if not over 400 miles one way. We have learned to adapt and feed/house opposing teams as part of our league agreement. For our district to even have high school sports we have to coop with a neighboring district 40 miles away. This means we share campuses for practices and our students do not get home until after 8:30 PM. We have done this for 15 years.

I realize we do not know the breadth of the concerns but we fully understand the money and safety issues; we have the same thoughts. The OSAA was careful to consider the entire state with this plan; I applaud them for the process. There just isn't an easy solution. I feel confident that should your decision uphold the OSAA proposal we would be more than willing to help districts and schools with ways to ease into the transition.
Athletic Director, Henley High School
written by Todd Moore, May 31, 2006
Dear Susan Castillo,

I am in full support of the recent decision to uphold the process that the OSAA used to reclassify the state's schools athletically.

I believe it is best for the vast majority of kids. A ruling to the contrary would cause much chaos at this point as all the schools in the state complete their athletic schedules a year in advance.

Please support the process and the recent decision by the arbitrator.

If you have any questions please contact me at Henley High School, 541-883-5040 or mooret@kcsd.k12.or.us
Principal SUHS Dist. #19
written by Brody L. Guthire, May 31, 2006
Hold your ground. You are doing what is right for the majority. Your courage is appreciated.

written by Brad Royse, May 31, 2006
I am in favor of the new classification. It makes our league far more competitive and equal. Also, our travel will be reduced. We will now have to travel over the Blues for most of our games which is not fun in the Winter, but we are happy with the ruling.
Make the Change
written by Gus Forster, May 31, 2006
Change is indeed difficult especially when needed! As educators we have refused to accept change when needed. We have for a long time continued to embrace practices that have held us back. For the simple fact that those practices were effective. Does this phrase sound familier "back when I was in school". The OSAA discussion is nothing new. I was on the classification and re districting committee in the late 1990's and discussed 5 classifications. We were still in the let's keep it the same mode of thinking.

Best of Luck to the OSAA and keep up the good work.
Assistant Principal/Athletic Director
written by Jim Smith, May 31, 2006

Assistant Principal
written by Mike Fagan, May 31, 2006
Why should schools have to try and compete against schools twice their size? This is good for kids despite an inconvenience for some.

Thank you to the OSAA for their hard work.
written by Dale Rooklyn, May 31, 2006
I believe the reclassification is in the best interest of students. I also believe in the integrity of the OSAA committee that spend countless hours arriving at their decision. I hope our state superintendent will support the reclassification, knowing that it can be modified, if necessary, at the next review period.
written by Art Johns, May 31, 2006
Our community and school board made the committment to support the six classification system when it was approved by the Delegate Assembly in October. We have watched with shock and dismay as some have opposed the change and slowed the process of making the adjustments. Our small school, and the league in which we had commpeted for many years changed substantially as larger schools dropped down as their enrollments diminished. This change places our school back in a position in which we compete with like schools. While no reclassification system will meet all the wants and wishes of all schools, this has come closer than any other alignment. Please support the findings of the hearings officer and let us move forward.
Principal, Philomath High School
written by Kent Sherwood, May 31, 2006
I think that the decision is the correct one, under the law. I especially agree with the statement about such decisions being made with the best interest of the state, overall, in mind.

I understand the position of the appealing districts but find it curious that current 3A schools in the same geographical locations have, for several years, made league trips to places like Madras, Sisters, LaPine, Klamath Falls, etc. It may or may not have been their preference, but they took it on as their part of "best situation for all." The new system moves our school from a six-team league to a five-team league and we don't like that, but we've accepted it.

Now, if folks are really serious about cutting back on distances, travel, fuel, out-of-class, etc., I would propose to both them and the OSAA that they take a hard look at the number of competitions allowed. I, personally (and as one who coached for nearly 30 years in areas with some pretty long league trips) would have no trouble supporting a maximum of 20 games in both basketballs (down from 24) and baseball/softball (down from 26). The competitions dropped would be non-league. I won't do it at my school alone because it's not worth the argument of "we're at a major disadvantage because we're not playing as many games as School-X." I think the change would have to be organizational, statewide. Other sports could (and, probably should) be looked at as well, but that's an average of 10 trips per school per year not being made (based on the common practice that, when one gender is at home, the other is on the road. In our case, the vast majority of our non-league competitions are longer than our league competitions; I suspect that would be true of many other schools, as well, particularly in the smaller enrollment classifications.

Just a thought.
written by Steve Chiovaro, May 31, 2006
Beau Horn is correct when he stated that “…that the viability of OSAA is at stake…” Enmeshed in the State Superintendents decision is nothing less than the continued ability of the schools that make up the OSAA to govern through the democratic process. While the 6-classification decision is not what YC would have preferred, nor is it what we voiced concerns about, it is what we strongly support for our objections were heard, our vote was counted, and the majority ruled. It’s not about YC it’s about the process and the integrity of OSAA governance model.
Former Superintendent and Principal
written by Mike Keizer, May 31, 2006
In my experience with the OSSA their processes and decisions have been consistently rigorous, democratic and ethical. I believe the association delegates did comendable work in dealing with the proposal for a 6 unit classification system, something sorely needed in this state, and I sincerely hope that Superintendent Castillo will uphold their decision. Her support in this case is critical to OSAA's continuing relevance as the decision making body for Oregon school athletics.
Superintendent, Tillamook School Distric
written by Randy Schild, May 31, 2006
It is satisfying to read through all the positive and supportive comments from staff and administration around the state as it relates to the six-classification system. Although the process has been very long and the bumps in the road have mountainous at times, it seems that justice has finally prevailed.

By assigning a hearings officer who had his own children graduate from one of the appealing Eugene schools, Susan Castillo has helped the OSAA prove that ANY REASONABLE PERSON would rule in favor of the OSAA on the issues that have been raised. Ms. Castillo has now been given the perfect opportunity to save face with her political supporters in Eugene while at the same time upholding what is right and just with the hearings officer's decision.

My only regret in this process is that Ms. Castillo didn't make a clear stand in favor of the rest of the state and the OSAA when this challenge was initially made. With her clear support and direction we could have saved the several hundred thousand dollars that all of us will share in legal expenses. There was no perfect plan for reclassification, but Ms. Castillo now has the opportunity to approve the best plan available for the entire state.
written by Larry Cote, June 01, 2006
The OSAA followed their guidelines and after 14 months of hard work and negotiations it is good to see that the Department of Justice has upheld their recommendations. The OSAA is not some dictatorship that makes decisions without considerable thought and input. It is important that Superintendent Castillo uphold the decision and support the OSAA and Oregon school athletics. It is important for her to remember that she represents the entire state of Oregon...

I have to wonder what the taxpayers in the Eugene School District are thinking as hundreds of thousands of dollars was spent to challenge the OSAA ruling when the money could have been spent on students in the district.

The Department of Justice has given the superintendent an out. She will be politically safe by following the recommendations of the hearings officer. Can South Eugene High School and Sheldon High School live with the decision of the majority of the State and the hearings officer? Or will they continue to waste tax payer dollars because they didn't get their way!!!
Superintendent Rainier School District
written by Michael Carter, June 01, 2006
I strongly believe that the OSAA has done an outstanding job with the new six unit classification system, and that the time is right for Superintendent Castillo to do the right thing and uphold the decision.

A special thanks to everyone who has been involved with this long process, and in the long run, everyone will benefit, especially the students that we serve.
Concerned Mid-Valley parent
written by Scott Kester, June 03, 2006
It became apparent by following this process from the beginning that the OSAA has the best interests of the entire state at heart. The input received from interested parties and the number of plans floated for consideration were discussed openly and exhaustively, resulting in exposure of strengths and flaws in the plans presented. The best plan survived.

I wish to echo the thoughts that the viability of the OSAA is at stake. Superintendent Castillo cannot allow a small minority of parties to delay or destroy the results of a fair and open process and effectively destroy the OSAA. Please take the only sensible course of action and approve this plan.

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This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 31, 2006 .