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Concerns raised on high school sports section move

A proposal for realignment of Santa Maria Joint Union High School District athletic teams from the CIF Southern Central Section to the CIF Central Section was the topic of a public meeting Monday night at Righetti High School.

Pioneer Valley, Santa Maria and Righetti High School Athletic Directors (AD’s) discussed pertinent facts and the probable consequences of the proposed realignment.

The discussion was intended to clear up any misinformation regarding the motivations behind realignment that is proposed to begin at the start of the 2018-19 academic year.

PVHS Athletic Director Greg Lanthier and others believe there are a lot of solid reasons for the possible change to CIF section boundaries.

“In evaluating all of the circumstances surrounding the realignment to the Central Section, the three District AD’s came to the conclusion that this would be in the best interest of our District’s student-athletes,” Lanthier said in a statement from the District office, “financial considerations, reducing missed class time, unnecessary travel distance, a chance to compete against more similar schools, control of local league alignments, more home play-off game opportunities, are some of the reasons motivating the change.”

At the meeting Monday night, Lanthier, the Santa Maria High School AD and two wrestling coaches further explained why they support the move to the Central Section to the few parents in attendance.

They cited, among other things, the considerable distance local high school teams must travel to compete in the CIF Southern Section with some bus trips taking more than ten hours to get to and from athletic events.

“Because it is so large and it is so big, we’ve created some travel issues for us that we’ve never had before”, Lanthier said, “in a lot of our cases we really have what we call undoable trips that they are going to ask us to make that we just didn’t feel it was in our best interests.”

Among concerns expressed by parents and others at the meeting were a drop in the level of competition with a move to the CIF Central Section, greater travel risks for student-athletes on smaller, central California highways as opposed to Highway 101 or freeways in southern California and a lack of public information about the proposed realignment process.

They urged the SMJUHSD Athletic Directors to hold at least one more public meeting to allow for more input from parents in the district before a final decision is made, which they agreed to do.

A time and date for the next meeting has not yet been announced.

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