The Virginia high school league has approved a realignment of Northern Virginia public high school athletic districts, despite the objections of several area athletic directors, coaches and principals. The redistricting will take effect next fall.
Approval of a redistricting proposal favored by 20 of the 26 area high school principals followed an hour and 15 minute meeting of state AAA high school principals in Charlottesville last Friday, although some members of six newly structured Northern district schools (Robinson, Lake Braddock, Washington-Lee, West Springfield, T.C. Williams and Chantilly) spoke against the plan. A principal has not yet been assigned to the seventh Northern district school, South Lakes in Reston, which is under construction and will not open until 1978.
Area principals have been working on redistricting plans since last fall when several smaller schools complained that the districts did not give them ample opportunity for lucrative paydays in football, the area's primary revenue-producing high school sport.
"We (new Northern district schools) hoped we could get the plan tabled," said W-L athletic director John Youngblood. "Our principals expalined how our schools are spread our all over the area, the differences in enrollment we have, and how many different school boundaries we travel across to play each other."
The move to table the redistricting plan was rejected, 37 to 28.
After hearing more discussion, according to Youngblood, the principals voted on the proposal twice. When the proposal narrowly passed on a show of hands vote, 34 to 33, a roll call vote was held, resulting in a 52 to 27 vote for the plan.
"The roll call vote showed that a lot of principals were influenced by how they heard others vote," Youngblood says. "The problem is that the principals from out of this area aren't close enough to see the problems. They don't want to get involved in other jurisdictions. Eighteen of them didn't vote at all."
one athletic director, who wished to remain anonymous, said, "When people form other parts of the state hear us complain about a 45-minute drive, they think we're crazy.That's short for some of these rural schools."
In addition to their complaints that the adopted proposal does not take advantage of natural geographic rivalries, some nothern district schools feel the new alignment will require revision within the next two years.
"I know for a fact that West Springfield is going to apply to the Gunston district next year." Youngblood says. "We (W-L) will probably apply to the Great Falls District. All it takes is a majority vote by the schools in a district to accept the school and they're in. As a new school, South Lakes can choose any district they want. Chantilly is talking about applying to the Great Falls District too.
"That could leave three schools in the Northern district. The northern region schools could be looking at redistriciting again in a year."
Districts were realigned two years ago and several coaches and athletic directors feel frequent redistricting hampers the establishment of rivalries.
"I just don't understand what they were thinking of when they approved this redistricting," says Ed Henry, head football coach at Robinson. "I really don't understand how some of the schools wound up where they are."
Harry Smith, athletic director at Robinson, says, "I would have preferred for the districts to remain the way they were. But the battle is over. Now we've got to do whatever we can to pull our new districts together."