School growth likely to doom Wesco 3A

By AARON COE

Herald Writer

The Western Conference 3A’s days may be numbered.

Because of growth at schools within the conference, it is likely that all eight schools will join the Western Conference 4A next year, forming a two-division super conference that would be the state’s largest.

Wesco 4A and 3A athletic directors approved a proposal to form the 19-school league after learning that six of the Wesco 3A schools – Arlington, Everett, Jackson, Lake Stevens, Monroe and Stanwood – were over the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association limit of 1,200 students for Class 3A schools.

Meadowdale and Lynnwood would compete in the Wesco 4A during the regular season, but may compete with Northwest 3A schools for state berths. The particulars of that scenario have not yet been determined.

Putting Lynnwood, which had an initial head count of 949 students, and Meadowdale (1,177 students) in the Northwest 3A Conference was never seriously considered.

“We just don’t see a lot of options,” Edmonds School District director of athletics Terri McMahan said. “You can say, why not just have them join the Northwest League. But you’re looking at afternoon, time out of school trips to three Bellingham schools, Ferndale and Lynden. Is that what we’re about in education – taking our kids out of the classroom at 1 o’clock multiple times during the week?”

That means the end of the Wesco 3A, at least for 2001-01 and 2002-03 school years, until the next reclassification.

Official head counts – which include not only number of students at a school, but also alternative and home school students within a school’s boundaries – are taken Oct. 1, Nov. 1 and Dec. 1. The average of those three numbers is used to determine a school’s W.I.A.A. classification.

The proposal calls for two geographically aligned yet-to-be-named divisions. The northern division would include Arlington, Cascade, Lake Stevens, Marysville-Pilchuck, Monroe, Mount Vernon, Oak Harbor, Snohomish and Stanwood.

The southern division would consist of Edmonds-Woodway, Everett, Jackson, Kamiak, Lynnwood, Mariner, Meadowdale, Mountlake Terrace, Shorecrest and Shorewood.

Current Wesco 4A member Sehome would join the Northwest 3A Conference, taking the place of Mount Vernon.

Arlington’s initial head count was 1,220, making next year’s affiliation uncertain. Should the number drop to below 1,201, Arlington officials would have to decide whether to join the Northwest 3A or opt up to 4A.

It is unknown how many state berths the new conference would receive. The 11-school Wesco 4A has two this year. The possibility exists that there will only be two berths for the larger conference during the next two years.

“We’re hoping for three, but it might only be two,” McMahan said. “It depends on how many 4A school there are (in the state).”

There was a proposal to form to totally separate leagues, but it was rejected by District 1 athletic directors, largely because of the mountains of paperwork that would be required to start a new league.

South Whidbey, currently in the North Cascades (2A) Conference, had an initial count of 606, which is six over the Class 2A limit. Should it stay above 600, South Whidbey would likely join the Northwest 3A Conference next year.

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