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OSAA votes to give Board of Education say in redistricting

PORTLAND — The Oregon School Activities Association will allow the state Board of Education to weigh in on classification and districting, a move to address criticism the organization took when it expanded from four athletics classes to six.

The OSAA's delegate assembly voted unanimously on Monday to allow the school board to appoint a representative on the OSAA committee.

When the OSAA expanded from four athletics classes to six last year, the Medford, Eugene and Salem-Keizer school districts protested because of increased travel time and safety concerns.

"I wouldn't deny that we're being somewhat reactive," John Lahley, OSAA board president, told The Oregonian newspaper, saying the changes show that the association wants to address the concerns of its 290-plus member schools.

The OSAA decided to give priority to six criteria in determining future reclassification.

Beginning in the 2007-08 school year, the committee will consider enrollment; geographic location, including travel costs and lost academic time; participant safety; school preferences, including requests to join a larger classification; creation of similar-size leagues; and keeping schools from the same school district in the same athletic league.

State Sens. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene, and Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, and state schools Superintendent Susan Castillo each have bills in the Legislature to limit the OSAA's authority.

Oregon Department of Education spokesman Gene Evans said the OSAA is taking steps in the right direction, in addressing issues such as student safety, loss of instructional time and cost. But he said the unanswered question is the authority of the superintendent "to do more than simply approve or deny a plan."

"We hope that the Legislature will better define that through the bill," Evans said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.