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SHEPHERDSVILLE - Bullitt East principal Debby Atherton and Charger athletic director Bob Blackburn made the trip to Lexington last Monday and spoke to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Board of Control meeting about the relationship the Bullitt County schools have with their regional partners in Jefferson County.
In the short term, it appears that very little was gained by the 15 minutes that they spoke. Hopefully, in the long term, they got the attention of the state’s power brokers and things will change in two years when the state gets another realignment.
First and foremost, the Bullitt East administration made it very clear that the Bullitt County schools want out of any region that is dominated by Jefferson County schools. That is not new news. That sentiment pretty much started the day after the realignment in 2005 that moved Bullitt County programs from their long time home in the Eighth Region into the Sixth Region with 16 other Jefferson County schools.
“We’re Whoville,” Atherton is reported as saying during her talk. “We’re all standing on the end of a clover shouting, “We’re here. We’re here.”...We don’t have a huge voice (in Jefferson County).”
The most recent concern for Bullitt East, as well as North Bullitt and Bullitt Central, was that they had absolutely no say in the realignment of the Sixth and Seventh Regions that led to the Charger programs being split at the district level from the county partners. In the attachments that the school sent to the Board of Control members before the meeting, they included minutes of meetings that showed that the locals were not involved in the decision-making.
“It’s like a slap in our faces,” Atherton said.
While the Jefferson County schools certainly left Bullitt County schools out of the process during talk of the realignment, there is just as much blame to be placed on the KHSAA. That group led everyone on both sides of the county line to believe that the Bullitt County schools were going to be moved out of the Sixth Region. Jefferson County ADs came up with several different alignment plans without the Bullitt County schools and then had to shuffle at the last minute when the KHSAA said that they could not move the Bullitt County schools.
Of course, the question still remains as to why the Board of Control felt that the Sixth and Seventh Regions needed to be realigned at all for what will probably only be for a two-year rotation. Some, but not all, of the animosity could have been eliminated just by keeping the status quo.
There are two points in all of this discussion that should be unbending from the Bullitt County schools. First, is to get out of Jefferson County. Second, is to be partnered together in the same district and region.
Late in the original realignment talk in February, the KHSAA asked the Bullitt County schools about splitting at the regional level with Bullitt East moving to the Eighth Region with Bullitt Central and North Bullitt heading to the Fifth Region. That would have made it easier to shuffle them into an existing district and region.
(In a previous story on this issue, the impression may have been given that Bullitt County schools originally came up with this idea in their desire to get out of Jefferson County. Bullitt County Schools Director of Secondary Education, David Marshall, who oversees the high schools and their athletic programs, emailed me to clarify that it was a question from the KHSAA that had launched that possibility and not a suggestion from Bullitt County.)
Unfortunately, even after being scuttled by the KHSAA in not moving the three Bullitt County schools at all, there is still mention of that possibility in the future.
The three Bullitt County schools right NOW need to shoot down that idea as even being a final option. Yes, the locals want out of Jefferson County, and that is job one. After that, the only thoughts should be keeping the three schools together on BOTH the district and regional level.
Splitting the Bullitt County schools at the regional level should NEVER be considered as an option. I hate to say this, but staying in Jefferson County (I want out of the Jefferson County regions as much as the schools do) in the same region is a better option than being split between two regions outside of Jefferson County. Being split at the district level is horrific, splitting at the regional level would be unconscionable.
Still the Sixth Region
After pretty much taking no action after listening to Atherton and Blackburn, the KHSAA Board of Control did take time out of its busy schedule to vote (unanimously) to switch the Sixth and Seventh Region designations for the new alignment.
So, the three Bullitt County teams will remain in the Sixth Region even with the alignment changes. And, instead of being in the 27th (Bullitt Central and North Bullitt) and the 28th District (Bullitt East), the teams will now be in the 23rd (BC, NB, Southern, Moore and Evangel) and 24th (BE, Fern Creek, Jeffersontown, Mercy and Whitefield Academy) Districts beginning in the fall.
The word through the coaching grapevine is that one reason for the change was that Ballard was miffed about having to change all of their championship banners from the Seventh Region to the Sixth Region (why would you do that anyway?). Central argued that their court has ‘Sixth Region’ painted on it and would take more to change.
Guess which school was heard the loudest in that argument?