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Columbia Basin Big Nine gets a second life

YAKIMA - The Columbia Basin Big Nine conference, which includes 3A Sunnyside, is still alive and kicking after all.

That's the result of a meeting yesterday of superintendents from the 10 school districts who participate in the 15-school conference.

Prior to Tuesday's meeting, there was talk of the CBBN dissolving in favor of north and south leagues with a mix of 3A and 4A schools in both.

That changed yesterday when superintendents met in Yakima.

"There was support from all 10 districts to continue the Columbia Basin Big Nine Conference," said Sunnyside Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole, who advocated for the conference to remain.

"My belief is that we are positioned in a much stronger way as one 15-team league," Cole said.

He noted that superintendents decided to not only retain the conference, but also appointed a seven-member committee to further research scheduling for the CBBN.

"They're creating a schedule that meets the geographic concerns and the need to compete with like-sized schools," Cole said.

He said factors to be considered in CBBN scheduling for the 2012-13 school year include student time out of class, travel times, rivalries and parental support.

Cole and the other superintendents will meet again in two weeks to finalize scheduling.

While Sunnyside and other pro-CBBN districts were able to see the league stay, Cole is also a realist.

"No one's going to get 100 percent of what they're hoping for, but the general consensus is that we can get it done."

He estimates the CBBN has been around for about 20 years, and expressed hope for the league's future.

"There's enough collaboration that we feel we can meet the needs of almost everyone," Cole said.

Those needs, he adds, aren't just about the 2012-13 season, but looking ahead long term.

"In two years Sunnyside High School will be a 4A school," Cole said. "As we look ahead to the future when we become a 4A school, we want to make sure the conversation is in Sunnyside's best interest."

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