Thursday, April 29, 2021

Rural Colorado schools want their own athletic association, say state association doesn't adequately serve rural areas

Most rural school districts in Colorado are considering creating their own high school sports association because they believe the state association isn't adequately serving their interests. The move reflects growing nationwide rural-urban tensions in high-school athletics. 

"About 50 rural school districts have asked the Colorado High School Activities Association to address what they called inequities, including claims rural communities are not adequately represented and hold little influence over decision-making, The Associated Press reports. "The districts also said there were issues with the association’s communication, financial transparency and grievance procedures, only made worse by the coronavirus pandemic."

Rural districts said they hadn't been included in decision-making about changes to protocol, such as a recent incident where they say they weren't properly notified about mandatory coronavirus testing at the state wrestling tournament. "A dispute arose recently when the association made a decision to move all of the state title football games to one location without consulting rural or urban schools," AP reports. One rural superintendent "said rural schools were upset because their community-driven teams were not able to benefit from local attendance."

Rural superintendents met with the CHSAA board of directors earlier this month to share their grievances and present a preliminary plan that includes hiring a new commissioner and forming a separate advisory council and board of directors for rural schools, AP reports. The board balked at creating a rural subset of the association, but had other suggestions. Discussions are ongoing. If the groups can't come to an agreement, rural superintendents say they're prepared to move forward with a separate association.

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