A near seven-month process should conclude today as the Utah High School Activities Association's Board of Trustees is expected to finalize the alignment for regions and classifications for 2009-13.
Today's meeting has been scheduled to settle the realignment process since it began on Nov. 15. But there is a possibility that the board could extend it until August or sooner because of rising gas prices. UHSAA executive director Evan Excel said he believes realignment will be finalized today, but final decisions could be delayed because the board will discuss the extraordinary travel costs schools are dealing with and look at possible ways to cut down on them for 2009-13.
"The price of fuel has gone up quite a bit since our last meeting (in March)," said Laura Baker, a Murray school board member and chairman of the Board of Trustees. "We'll look at that and if it will keep going up and what we're going to do. That is an issue that will be really addressed."
It is extremely late in the realignment process to make sweeping changes to regions and classifications. That doesn't mean they won't happen. There's a possibility of mixed regions involving schools from different classifications to cut down on travel costs. The board seems satisfied with how things worked out in Region 9 during the school year, as Dixie, Snow Canyon and Pine View participated in the league as 4A schools, while Cedar, Canyon View and Hurricane competed as 3A schools.
The board will also discuss setting new scheduling limitations.
"There are a lot of little innuendoes out there," Excel said. "You'd have to look at cutting down on scheduling because of gas prices. If you really want to do something about that you'd have to postpone realignment. It would have to be done at the next meeting at the end of August or at a special meeting before then."
Travel costs figure to be the last major hurdle of settling the alignment for 2009-13. Three drafts (first, rough second, final second) have been put together by the board, and schools had two opportunities to voice their concerns at realignment hearings. Representatives from schools such as Granger, Cyprus and Ogden made compelling arguments regarding competitiveness and accurate enrollment numbers.
Excel said he expects certain board members to continue their arguments today.
"Some people will come loaded for bear," he said.
The board will be presented with an innovative idea about how to align regions and classifications. Rather than basing classifications on enrollment numbers, they'll look at how many students graduate from their high schools. It's probably too late in the realignment process to realistically revamp it for 2009-13, but Excel hopes it's seriously looked at during the next alignment."It takes care of a lot of issues," Excel said.