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Smith suggests abandoning WIAA

Sunnyside School Board member Bill Smith has long been a proponent of education over athletics. In that vein, last night he bravely stood alone.

Before the school board last night was the consideration of approving the district enrollment form with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA). In a nutshell, the form is part of a process that allows students at Harrison Middle School and Sunnyside High School to formally take part in WIAA-sponsored events.

Smith kind of had a different take on the situation.

Citing some concerns about what would be happening with the athletic programs in the Sunnyside School District following an amendment to be voted on by the WIAA rep assembly in late April to create a new 'C' classification, Smith brought up the issue of not rejoining the WIAA, but instead offering some sort of intramural sports program.

The problem for the Sunnyside School District athletic programs is that with the upcoming enrollment counts, regardless of whether or not the new classification ranking is approved, the Mid-Valley League will basically be ripped to shreds, leaving Sunnyside and West Valley-Yakima as the only two schools searching for a new home. Sunnyside High School Athletic Director Bill Daley has been looking at forming some sort of partnership with the 2A Central Washington Athletic Conference (CWAC) to field games for the season, and then breaking off to the 3A ranks come the postseason. West Valley has been looking at implementing an independent schedule. Both schools have voiced a desire to not opt up to the 4A ranks.

Smith, though, said last night he would have a problem rejoining the WIAA if Sunnyside student athletes were forced to travel great distances for games. Smith said the district had been spending a lot of time dealing with athletic issues surrounding WIAA requirements. He asked why the district couldn't spend the same amount of energy developing an intramural program. Smith also cited the benefits of an intramural program in the fact that student athletes wouldn't have to be cut from teams.

Smith met immediate opposition with his comments.

Sunnyside School District Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole said it was something he would recommend the district not do.

Sunnyside High School principal Dennis Birr said there is research that shows athletic programs help keep students in school.

"Competition is a part of the world you have to deal with," said Birr.

Birr said Daley has been putting forth a lot of work in trying to strike a partnership with the neighboring CWAC league. Birr told the board he wasn't in favor of abandoning the WIAA.

The board ended up approving the enrollment form to be sent to the WIAA with Smith not voting on the issue.

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