Re-alignment proposals keep county schools in 4A, but bring changes

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As the New Mexico Activities Association continues a countdown toward a new classification and realignment plan for 2014-15, a large majority of member high schools have chimed in about which of the two proposals they favor.

And the vote is just about split.

There were 65 schools (52.8 percent) that voted for Proposal A. Another 58 schools (47.2 percent) went with Proposal B.

Los Lunas, Belen and Valencia would all remain in Class 4A in both proposals.

Ultimately, the NMAA's board of directors — which has final say — decides how the schools will be divvied up starting with the next two-year block that begins with the 2014-15 school year.

The board meets Feb. 27.

Mitigating factors could include how districts will be aligned, and how the state playoffs will be formatted.

The schools' vote was simply an advisory referendum. There are 158 schools included in this realignment plan; 123 of them (about 78 percent) took time to cast a vote.

"Very high," NMAA executive director Sally Marquez said on the voting participation.

Los Lunas Schools athletic director Wilson Holland, voting on behalf of both Los Lunas and Valencia, used both of his votes to support Proposal A.

Belen Schools athletic coordinator Rodney Wright also voted for Proposal A.

The NMAA is still trying to work out the process by which numerical balance among the classes will be achieved, Marquez said.

Proposal A would be fairly drastic, insomuch as both Rio Grande and Valley would drop from 5A to 4A, and St. Pius (4A) and Albuquerque Academy (3A) would no longer be in the same class.

Proposal A has a fairly even distribution of schools in Classes 3A-5A (21 or 22), and an even distribution among Classes B, 1A and 2A (31 for each).

Proposal B features the following: Rio Grande would remain 5A, Valley would drop to 4A, both Santa Fe and Deming would join 5A, Academy would play 4A sports across the board including football, and Bosque School would jump from 2A to 3A.

In this format, all the classes would be relatively close in numbers. Classes 3A-5A would each have 24, and Classes 2A-B would have 28 or 29.

Balance is perhaps the overriding theme in both proposals.

After the board votes in February, schools will then have until June to appeal their standing. Marquez said she would be reaching out to bubble schools in every classification.

Valley is passionately opposed to a reclassification to 4A. It wants to remain a 5A school.

"I believe we'll pursue every avenue we must to make that happen," Valley athletic director Joe Coleman said.

Valley's enrollment figure, around 1,350 according to NMAA data, falls under the 1,401 barrier that would separate 5A from 4A. If Valley wants to play up, then someone would likely have to move down.

Rio Grande is playing a wait-and-see game.

"Some (coaches) want to stay 5A, and some of them want to go to 4A," Rio Grande Principal Yvonne Garcia said. "I would venture to say that the community would be the same way."

Garcia said Rio Grande would visit with community groups and conduct forums to obtain feedback before deciding whether or not to appeal the board's Feb. 27 decision.