OSAA proposal puts Salem, Bend in same league

Parents, staff strongly oppose the proposal

High school football players practice in Keizer, October 17, 2017 (KOIN)
High school football players practice in Keizer, October 17, 2017 (KOIN)

KEIZER, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon School Activities Association voted to have 5 Salem-Keizer high schools play in a league with Bend high schools — more than 100 miles away — causing parents to worry about their students’ safety.

The growth of the student population at the Bend schools is the main reason for moving them up to the 6A level. According to the OSAA, it was the best option to put them in the Greater Valley Conference after looking at 20 proposals.

However, Salem-Keizer parents as well as staff are strongly opposed to the move. They said they’re worried about kids traveling on buses in the winter over the Santiam Pass.

They’re also concerned about kids losing class time when games are 3 hours away.

Lillian Govus with the Salem-Keizer School District said, “We’re looking at $700,000 annually in our budget for buses, transportation for student athletes, support services and the staff that go along with them.”

But the OSAA said it does look closely at travel time, cost and safety and also went through hundreds of letters from the community.

OSAA executive director Peter Weber said, “We have a number of schools that travel over the mountains. What we rely on is certainly our schools and school administrators making the right call in those situations and if there are concerns about potential snowstorms then you reschedule the game.”

Despite parent and staff concerns, the league change is final and will begin next fall.