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Thursday, August 30, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Seattle 4A schools to stay in KingCo

Seattle Times staff reporter

At least three Seattle Class 4A high schools now playing in the KingCo Conference will remain there at least through the 2009-2010 school year.

That decision was made Wednesday by Seattle public-high-school principals at a nearly two-hour meeting.

"We made a decision to maintain the status quo," said Al Hairston, coordinator of athletics for the Seattle School District.

He said no formal vote was taken but that a consensus was reached.

The issue before the principals was whether Garfield, Roosevelt, Ballard and Franklin should return to the 3A Metro League beginning in fall 2008. Metro would have become a 3A/4A league.

Hairston said Franklin may be 3A size for the next two-year cycle that begins next fall. If Franklin becomes 3A, it will join Metro.

Franklin has struggled in most sports more than the other city schools in KingCo 4A, which has schools from the Northshore and Lake Washington districts.

The stay-in-KingCo-or-leave decision had to be made now because the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) requires notification of changes one year before a new two-year "cycle" begins. The next cycle starts in fall 2008.

Hairston said uncertainty about future Seattle School District enrollment policy was a big factor in Wednesday's decision.

Rainier Beach principal Robert Gary said new superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson "is reviewing the school-assignment plan" for distributing students among the schools.

Hairston said a critical factor in the decision to keep the 4A schools in the suburban league was the size difference between 4A and some 3A city schools.

Roosevelt had 1,714 students in grades 9-12 last year and Ballard and Garfield had more than 1,600. Cleveland had 600 and Rainier Beach had 457.

Hairston said the feeling was that it would be "detrimental to the 3As" if the 4A schools came back in fall 2008.

Franklin, Garfield and Roosevelt joined KingCo in fall 1997 and Ballard followed in 2002.

Roosevelt football coach Jeff Ware called the decision "disappointing from a football perspective" but said he wasn't surprised.

"I would certainly prefer to be playing other city schools; that's where the rivalries are, " Ware said.

An argument for remaining in KingCo include the league's separate seasons for boys and girls in golf, swimming and tennis. The Metro League offers these sports as coed sports in a single season.

The argument frequently has been made that the suburban-urban interaction is good for kids on both sides of Lake Washington. The suburban schools also provide reliable junior-varsity and C team competition in sports where some city 3A schools have trouble fielding just a varsity team.

Arguments for returning to Metro included the feeling that Seattle schools should be playing each other and anticipated reductions in travel costs and lost classroom time for early dismissals for road games.

Note

• Lake Washington High hired Terry Johnson as its athletic director, adding to his duties as boys basketball coach and social-studies teacher.

"It was just a good opportunity at a good time," said 1996 LW grad Johnson, who replaces Doug Chapple. "It's something to challenge myself a bit and see if it's something I want to continue to pursue."

Freelancer Chris Chancellor

contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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