Salem-Keizer’s fit to the OSAA might actually work out after all, all the while the rest of the state gets to avoid a complete overhaul. Thanks to size downgrades for each of the Bend schools with the addition of Caldera, every 6A school in the Bend-La Pine School District would qualify to be in 5A, allowing them to be added to the existing Intermountain Conference and avoiding a complete upheaval of the entire state landscape. As for the Salem-Keizer schools, they would get their own conference consisting of just their schools, while McKay and North Salem swap places with the Vikings moving up to 6A again and the Scots down to the 5A Mid-Willamette Conference.
These are the latest developments in the ongoing process of getting the state realigned for the next four years starting next school year. The most recent proposal released publicly on Thursday, and appears to be one that is being honed in on by the OSAA classification and districting committee. According to OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber, the redistricting boundaries and enrollment projections have every 6A Bend school dropping below 1,000 students, which is the cutoff point between 6A and 5A, giving the OSAA a more comfortable position in moving them to 5A than what was being looked at in September. Outside the ongoing Salem-Bend drama, there are also a number of other changes happening with schools moving down. Pendleton, Parkrose, The Dalles, Scappoose and North Bend would move from 5A to 4A, while Valley Catholic, Corbett, Sisters, Siuslaw, North Valley, McLoughlin and Elmira go from 4A to 3A. The OSAA classification and districting committee meets again on November 1st, at which time we should see their latest proposal released.
This ability to flexibly move Bend schools to 5A is a huge early Christmas gift for the rest of the state, as it keeps the landscape largely intact. Two notes that are overlooked is that Canby goes from the 6A Three Rivers League to 5A Northwest Oregon Conference with Wilsonville, La Salle Prep, and others, while Woodburn comes up from 4A to the 5A Mid-Willamette Conference. The addition of Canby, Woodburn, and the Bend schools to 5A shouldn’t impact too much, as their athletics programs aren’t likely to just rule the classification from the get go, with the exception of the Summit cross country dynasty. Salem having their own five team conference might make it difficult to find a full non-conference slate, especially with the bigger conferences throughout 5A and 6A, but the committee might add a team or two to the conference in their next proposals. Other than that, I can see nothing but winners across the board in this proposal.