Other than that, the Utah High School Activities Assocation's legislative council adopted the proposed realignment nearly in the same form as it was recommended by a study committee and by a recent vote of the UHSAA's board of directors.
Also approved during the lengthy meeting at Little America Hotel was the accepting of girls' soccer and softball as sanctioned high school sports, starting with the 1989-90 school year.
The realignment issue - and subsequent approval - took nearly half of the four-hour meeting Wednesday at Little America Hotel. A presentation on the realignment efforts and current proposal took 40 minutes, while debate - sometimes heated and pointed - lasted for an hour.
The realignment was adopted under the following guidelines:
- 1A classification, up to 175 students.
- 2A classification, 176 to 550 students.
- 3A classification, 551-1,199 students (the latter limit not absolute), with geographic location, competitiveness and participation as a three-year or four-year school also considered.
- 4A classification, more than 1,200 students (also not absolute), with the same added guidelines as the 3A criteria.
While realignment has occurred every two years (except when the alignment was "frozen" two years ago as realignment discussions continued), the recent region changes will stay in effect for four years. Schools experiencing a substantial change in annual enrollment during the four years are allowed to petition the UHSAA for a possible switch in classifications.
In addition to the opposition from the Granite and Salt Lake school districts, other council representatives voiced concerns ranging from extended travel among region members and inequitable moves to a larger classification.
For example, Nebo School District officials complained that the southern Utah County schools left in Region 8 would now face increased travel costs by being joined by the southern Utah trio of Cedar City, Dixie and Pine View.
Meanwhile, representatives speaking on behalf of Pleasant Grove wondered why its 1,173 enrollment earned 4A status, while schools with larger student bodies, such as Granite (1,229), West (1,201) and Jordan (1,199) were allowed to remain at 3A status. Other school officials expressed similar fears and dissatisfaction of having to face opponents at a higher size classification.
The voting on the proposed realignment remained stalled until the Regions 2 and 3 issue was resolved. While other concerns still remained unsettled, the content Salt Lake area contingent provided enough votes for majority passage.
The realignment issue had been a volatile one, with the efforts of a study committee resulting in 15 months' work, 13 major meetings, and one previous proposal being rejected last summer by the legislative council.
Meanwhile, the sanctioning of softball and girls' soccer as two additional sports follows on the heels of five northern Utah school districts coming under fire - and a possible civil-rights review that could have jeopardized federal funding through Title IX violations - for not providing equal opportunities for both sexes in an equitable number of sports.
Prior to the adoption of the two girls' sports, high school boys competed in 10 athletic events, while girls were allowed seven.
The council's approval makes the civil-rights case "a moot situation," said UHSAA Executive Director Glen L. Beere, adding that a review will now not be necessary. "You can't imagine the time and expense that is going to save these five districts."
The sanction allows statewide competition in the two sports, with schools and districts to decide for themselves whether or not to organize a program, how to fund it and if it should be an interscholastic or club program.