The Sunnyside School Board voted 3-2 last night (Thursday) to stay in the Columbia Basin Big Nine instead of joining the new breakaway league centered in the Tri-Cities.
Superintendent Rick Cole and district athletic director Bill Daley presented the situation to the board during the regular meeting.
According to Cole, the 15 schools in the Big Nine voted 8-7 to change the schedules to a geographic division late last year, but because a supermajority of 75 percent was required by league bylaws, the vote was nullified. As a result of the dissent, the superintendents of the districts involved appointed a task force to try to meet the needs of all the schools as best possible.
Daley reported the task force met early this week and worked out a possible schedule, but the eight schools in the Tri-Cities asked that the supermajority rule and the rule against geographic divisions be removed from the league bylaws. The other schools refused, and the eight Tri-Cities schools announced their intention to leave the league.
Sunnyside School District was invited to join the breakaway league and also asked to stay in the Big Nine. The board was asked last night to make a decision on which league the district would join.
The board took into consideration a number of factors, focusing on what would be best for the student athletes in the district.
Although the travel time to Eastmont, Moses Lake and Wenatchee is considerably longer than trips to the Tri-Cities, Daley and Cole pointed out that the schedule would be more flexible, allowing the district to schedule against local schools such as Grandview and Prosser with very short travel times, potentially balancing out the distances somewhat.
Coaches in the district were also questioned at a meeting, and Daley reported that the coaches were overwhelmingly in support of staying in the Big Nine.
A third option of going independent was mentioned, but not seriously considered due to the scheduling difficulties it would present.
Board director Rocky Simmons was strongly in favor of joining the Tri-Cities breakaway league, stating that Sunnyside needs "to mentor them on what's best for kids." Simmons also mentioned that he felt like the Sunnyside district was being bullied.
Board director Sandra Linde argued for staying in the Big Nine for the same reason, noting that the Tri-Cities schools had not shown much respect for Sunnyside during the argument, and would be unlikely to do so in the future.
Linde motioned to remain in the Big Nine, and director Miguel Puente seconded. Director Lorenzo Garza joined with them in voting to stay in the CBBN. Simmons and director Michelle Perry voted against staying in the Big Nine.
The Columbia Basin Big Nine is now made up of Moses Lake, Eisenhower, Davis, Eastmont and Wenatchee, all at 4A, and Sunnyside at 3A.