The Franklin News-Post|
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
|Franklin County clears realignment hurdle|
Friday, August 10, 2012
By STEVEN MARSH - Sports Editor
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- For now, Franklin County's future athletic home is the River Ridge District. But as high school Athletic Director T.J. Shepardson said Thursday morning, its placement in that district is still not a signed, sealed and delivered deal.
Two votes Wednesday by the Virginia High School League's (VHSL) Redistricting and Reclassification (R&R) Committee affirmed the Eagles' placement in the River Ridge District by that committee.
"It's not a victory (for us) until it's a done deal,' Shepardson said. "Until it's official, there's no need to get excited. But we did clear a hurdle (Wednesday).'
With the VHSL's proposed change from three to six statewide classifications, the River Ridge District, currently a Group AAA league, will become a combination district with nine teams spread over three classifications: Class 3-A, Class 4-A and Class 6-A.
The 3-A schools are Cave Spring, Hidden Valley, Christiansburg and Blacksburg; the 4-A schools are Pulaski County, Salem and Carroll County; the 6-A schools are Patrick Henry and FCHS.
Principals from both current league member Pulaski County and Carroll County, which competes in the Southwest District submitted letters to the R&R committee in opposition to FCHS's placement in the River Ridge.
Both principals cited travel concerns and FCHS's size -- the school has more than 2,100 students and is the 25th largest in Virginia -- as reasons for their opposition.
FCHS principal Debora Decker submitted a letter to the committee outlining her reasons as to why the school belongs in the River Ridge as opposed to the Piedmont or Seminole districts, both of which were considered as possible future athletic homes for the Eagles by the R&R Committee.
These letters and other letters submitted as appeals for R&R Committee review were released to the media earlier this week.
In February, the R&R Committee voted 6-5-2 to place FCHS in the River Ridge, the placement high school officials desired since the beginning of the realignment process.
Wednesday, the R&R Committee denied Pulaski's appeal, 11-1, and denied Carroll County's appeal, 10-2.
"It was a better result (Wednesday) than last time (in February),' Shepardson said. Based on the vote, I think we're moving forward. After (the vote), I felt much better about where we were headed.
"I don't know if there is anything more that can be presented than what's been presented over the course of the last four months,' Shepardson said.
Schools can appeal Wednesday's ruling to the R&R Committee on Sept. 11, eight days before the committee makes its final assignments to to VHSL's Executive Committee for approval Sept. 19.
Afterwards, schools will be allowed one last written appeal directly to the Executive Committee, and the league's entire membership must still vote on the plan to expand from three classifications to six.
What's in limbo is scheduling for 2013-14, Shepardson said. In football, for example, Shepardson said he has verbal agreements with Patrick Henry, William Fleming, Salem and Pulaski County for 2013.
"Our scheduling is being affected right now. That's the biggest concern that I have,' Shepardson said. "We need to move forward with (realignment) so we can schedule. I shouldn't need to think about having to schedule six or seven (football) games for the next (two-year) cycle right now.'