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HILLSVILLE –– The executive committee of the Virginia High School League went against the grain – and its redistricting and reclassification committee – and sided with Carroll County and the River Ridge District by removing proposed member Franklin County from the RRD and placing it into the Piedmont District beginning with the 2013-14 school year.
The move came during the committee’s meeting Wednesday in Charlottesville, where it also voted 23-3 in favor of a six-classification system to be implemented beginning next school year.
In that ststem, 4A Carroll County will be placed with the River Ridge next school year, joining 6A Patrick Henry, 4A Pulaski County and Salem, and 3A Christiansburg, Blacksburg, Cave Spring and Hidden Valley.
“We’re pleased with [Wednesday’s] decision, No. 1 because of the travel,” CCHS principal Chuck Thompson said. Thompson noted that the trip by bus to Rocky Mount is two and a half hours, and Carroll’s teams have been facing trips that long since joinig the Southwest District 17 years ago.
“It’s somebody else’s turn to either travel or to resolve some of our travel issues, and I think the executive committee took that into account,” he said.
The VHSL’s R&R committee had earier denied two appeals each from Carroll County and Puaski County, with Pulaski’s being on behalf of the River Ridge as a whole, that Franklin County not be admitted into the RRD. Carroll County and Pulaski then filed letters with the executive committee, challenging the decision of the R&R committee, but Hidden Valley principal and executive committee member Rhonda Stegall pre-emptively brought up the issue, which led to a lengthy discussion among committee members.
Acting against the redistricting and reclassification (R&R) committee’s recommendations is rare, according to VHSL spokesman Mike McCall.
“Very unusual,” McCall said Wednesday. “They can do that, but I would say it’s unusual. I guess this is an unusual year.”
“I think it was hard or the R&R committee to go back on a model they had constructed,” Thompson said of the earlier failed appeals. “They had some ownership of that, so I think it was a little easier for the executive committee to take a look at things in an objective way.”
Following the last round of appeals to the R&R committee Sept. 11, a district was formed within what is now Region D, and approved by the R&R committee. That new district will include Lebanon and all current Southwest District schools except Carroll. Appealing to remain with its fellow SWD members wasn’t an option for Carroll in Wednesday’s meeting.
“The way I understand their language to be, you could only appeal what you had already appealed,” Thompson said.
Carroll will be in the River Ridge at least for two years, joining one of the most competitive districts in the state, but without Franklin County, the largest high school west of Richmond, looming in every sport.
“When you have 1,000 fewer students, it’s difficult to have a level playing field,” Thompson said. “We’re in a district with half of the old New River District. I think we now have to focus on our objective, which is moving forward.”
After the coming two-year cycle, said Thompson, anything can be considered again.
Some information provided by Landmark News Service.