Sherando approved to stay in Group 4A; Northwestern District adding eight teams

The Virginia High School League realignment committee, on Thursday, approved Sherando’s appeal to stay in Group 4A and the Northwestern District’s proposal to expand to 13 teams starting with 2017-18 school year.

Sherando was originally slated to move to Group 5A next year when the VHSL released its realignment proposal in June. In the latest average daily membership numbers released by the VHSL, Sherando was listed with 1,533 students.

Sherando Coordinator of Student Activities Jason Barbe said that the March 31 ADM numbers are the average daily attendance from the first day of school to March 31. He said that every school has their numbers adjusted based on certain criteria by the VHSL. He said that there are certain populations that don’t count against your ADM. Barbe said they felt the numbers weren’t adjusted properly, and the VHSL agreed. The new adjusted number was 1,522 students, which put them below the Group 5A mark of 1,526.

“We said all along we just wanted to be where we belonged, and I’ve been cautiously optimistic that our actual number was going to put us in that range and we’re pleased that it did,” Barbe said.

Barbe said it wasn’t so much an appeal as it was making sure their numbers were accurate.

“In explaining (the adjusted number) to the Virginia High School League they were in agreement with that as well. What really happens is, then, that is presented to the appeals committee,” Barbe said. “So it wasn’t really an appeal it’s like, ‘Hey Sherando’s number is 1,522, so we got to stick them back in 4A.’ It wasn’t like we were asking the appeals committee for that. We had to justify what our number was to the state.”

VHSL Communications Director Mike McCall said that Frederick County superintendent David Sovine sent a letter to the VHSL explaining the numbers and the alignment committee approved the appeal 13-0.

McCall said it was approved under the policy manual 10-1-1 rule. The rule states that any changes or corrections to the school’s ADM must be corroborated by the school division superintendent and must be filed with the VHSL office in accordance with deadlines established by the Alignment Committee.

“The superintendent did exactly what they were supposed to do, and the appeals committee heard it and saw that the policy was followed and it was approved,” McCall said.

Sherando had not been placed in a region originally, and will now likely be placed in the same region with the other Winchester City/Frederick County schools.

The school will also be in a bigger district in 2017-18 as the Northwestern District expands from five schools to 13. Sherando, Skyline, Warren County, Brentsville, Culpeper County, Fauquier, James Wood, Handley, Kettle Run, Liberty (Bealeton), Manassas Park, Millbrook and William Monroe will be the schools in the district. The expansion was approved 13-0 on Thursday.

“It’s a good thing. There was some question about whether it would get accepted or not,” Skyline athletic director Bill Cupp said. “I’m glad the league approved the appeal. … For us as a school, we will still be the smallest school in the Northwestern District. But we will go from being the smallest school (in the district) with the next biggest being four or five hundred students larger, to having schools that are within one hundred students of us.”

Cupp said the travel aspect won’t change much, since most of the schools in the district they already play in their non-district schedule.

There will be seven Group 4A schools and six Group 3A schools. In most sports the Group 3A schools would play each other twice and the 4A schools would play each other twice. Then each team can play some of the other teams in the district, not in their classification, once if they want to, which would make scheduling games easier.

One of the biggest positives for Skyline is having Warren County back in the same district. Warren County is currently in the Bull Run District.

“I think that’s the big key to it,” Cupp said. “Right now we’re always going to get compared to Warren, and how well they’re doing and how well we’re doing. The last couple years with us being in two different districts it’s not an apples to apples comparison. … This way it allows the community to judge that. I think it will benefit both schools to play the same schools.”

Starting next year the postseason will begin with regional play, which is one reason Barbe said it made sense to expand the district. The district will just be used to schedule regular season games, but will not have an effect on postseason qualification.

“It’s certainly going to benefit all of us to have a larger pool of schools, all reasonably close together, with some history together, back in the Northwestern,” Barbe said. “Most all of these schools have been together in some form or another, from time to time. So it makes as a lot of sense for it to take place.”

With the loss of Warren County and William Monroe, the Bull Run District will only have six teams and only five for football.

The Shenandoah District added a team on Thursday as Robert E. Lee was approved to move from the Valley to the Shenandoah.

The VHSL Executive Committee will meet in September to give final approval on all of the realignment committee’s newest plans, but generally no changes are made by the executive committee.

Contact staff writer Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or tkeeler@nvdaily.com