Pe Ell, Willapa Valley to Combine for Football, Baseball and Softball


    The Pe Ell and Willapa Valley school districts have agreed to combine programs middle and high school football and high school baseball and softball for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years.

    The districts' boards of directors held respective meetings last night, with each agreeing to the combination.

    Beyond that, however, there's still plenty up in the air, according to Pe Ell School District Superintendent Kyle MacDonald, including when to hire coaches, what to do about school colors and uniforms, a mascot, pep bands, cheerleaders, and a host of other incidental issues.

    "All we have right now is last night's decision that we're going to do it," MacDonald said. "Now we have to decide what it's going to take to get that accomplished."

    The districts had each held public meetings to gauge the community's opinion on the combination, and MacDonald said the districts sought input from Tom Manke, Superintendent of the Morton School District — which now combines its athletic programs with neighboring White Pass — and District 4 director Rich Fraser.

    The community meeting in Pe Ell, MacDonald said, had around 70 community members in attendance, the vast majority of whom were either in favor of the combination or asking for a full combination in all sports.

    "We just came into the meeting, and said we're considering football, and considering softball and baseball," MacDonald said. "So we were sort of surprised by everybody talking full combination."

    Pe Ell's enrollment for the WIAA's two-year cycle starting in the fall is 70 students, while Willapa Valley's is 73. Those figures would put either school in the 1B classification, though both schools have previously opted to play up a classification and compete at the 2B level.

    The total enrollment of 143 would be well within the 2B classification's figures, and compare closely with Adna, at 145 students, and still be significantly smaller than Toledo, the largest school in next year's Central 2B League with 208 students.

    The schools will submit paperwork to the WIAA and the Central 2B League for approval to compete in the C2BL for the next two seasons.

    The biggest increased cost involved with the combination, MacDonald said, will come in transporting students to and from practices in Menlo. Willapa Valley does not currently offer baseball or softball as a spring sport, and the district does not have playing fields for those two sports.

    MacDonald, the chairs of both districts' board of directors and Willapa Valley superintendent Rob Friese were scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss where to start the actual process of combining programs — including early talks on the smaller issues that go into the move, like hiring coaches, standard operating procedures, student handbooks, a mascot, team colors, cheerleaders and pep bands.

    "Those are all things Mr. Manke pointed out to us," MacDonald said. "It's not like we didn't realize it, but there's a lot of stuff that's got to be figured out."