PORTLAND – The Oregon School Activities Association Monday voted to reclassify local high-school sports teams, despite public testimony pleading for them not to.
The decision means that all Portland public high schools will compete at the 6A level, no matter how large or small the school.
According to the OSAA, the largest school in the PIL, Lincoln, has 1,454 students, followed closely by Grant, Cleveland, Franklin. Wilson has 1,145 students, Madison, 892, Benson 713, Roosevelt 664 and Jefferson 351.
The reclassification will begin during the 2013-2014 school year and continue for at least four years. The move will cut down on travel expenses, according to officials with Portland Public Schools.
Clackamas and Oregon City will slide into a new eight-team Mount Hood Conference, competing with teams from Barlow, Centennial, Central Catholic, David Douglas, Gresham and Reynolds high schools.
Newberg, Sherwood, St. Mary's Academy, Tigard and Tualatin will join West Linn, Lake Oswego, Lakeridge and Canby in the new nine-school Three Rivers League.
Parents at some of the smaller schools testified before Monday's OSAA vote. They expressed concerns over kids getting hurt or tired and staying in the game because there aren't enough backup players.
"As parents we are very concerned about the safety of our children," said parent Kimberly Swopes. "We lack the funding to get our kids to and from games and lack funding for trainers."
Breaking up West Linn and Oregon City was another big disappointment that coaches have brought up.
It’s a "93-year standing rivalry, the longest-standing rivalry west of the Mississippi. It doesn't make any sense to break it up,” Oregon City High School athletic director Bruce Reece said. “You play it as a non-league game—yeah, it's still a game—but it doesn't mean near as much."
Monroe High School and Portland Christian High School representatives also spoke against the changes, saying students from smaller schools might not be able to compete with those in the larger schools, which would lower morale and cause participation to drop.
Background: All PIL schools may compete at 6A level
KGW reporter Nina Mehlhaf contributed to this report.