State Rep. Lundy Kiger this week sent letters to the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association (OSSAA) and the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association (OFBCA) concerning redistricting and what is happening to schools in Southeast Oklahoma.
Kiger said the letters were spurred after he was contacted by multiple school administrators in Southeast Oklahoma related to their view of the unfairness of the redistricting process.
“I don’t like getting in the business of the OSSAA, and I understand the organization has a difficult job when it comes to redistricting and keeping the process fair while also trying to make everyone happy,” he said. “But, I have great trust in the judgements of these administrators who have expressed concerns about the fairness of the OFBCA process for redistricting schools. With that, I felt I immediately had to get involved and alert others in my caucus in both legislative chambers to get involved as well.”
Kiger said the concerns of many of the rural school administrators in Southeast Oklahoma has to do with balance of power and geography.
“Many in the region feel the decision makers for redistricting are making their determinations on teams that Southeast Oklahoma schools will play and are more self-serving than fair,” he said. “They believe this has everything to do with power schools, in terms of their sports teams, having an easier road to travel in getting to the state playoffs.”
To confirm these points, Kiger said he is being told the decision makers have openly stated their goal is to make sure the "top eight" schools make the quarterfinals.
“To me and others in Southeast Oklahoma this is totally the wrong direction to go, while it also puts financial pressure on our local school budgets and more importantly our kids,” he said.
In regards to team locations, Kiger said he’s learned the draft proposal submitted for review by his area schools are resulting in some of the local 2A schools having to travel longer distances and bypassing other 2A school closer to the area for conference play.
“It makes no sense to me and to our school administrators that our fans and teams like Heavener, Spiro, Panama, Pocola, Vian and Roland will have to travel to Tulsa to play Cacia Hall and Rejoice Christian, while other Southeast Oklahoma schools will have to travel to the Oklahoma City area,” Kiger said.
“Decisions like this will make it more difficult on not just the teams and school budgets, but for our fans and especially our band members who will have to get up early the next day after traveling to Tulsa to participate in band competitions. This is completely wrong, and I believe these decisions are being made for the wrong reasons and benefitting others who are in a position to draft schedules,” he said.
Kiger is asking OSSAA and OFBCA to rework their proposal and do the right thing in considering travel distances and school budgets and not stacking schedules for the benefits of other teams and coaches. He said if the OSSAA cannot do this, then it seems to him the organization needs to be under a state organization that allows more observation and control over possible unfair outcomes that are apparent in this specific situation.
Kiger asks OSSAA and OFBCA to not send Southeast Oklahoma teams to Tulsa or Oklahoma City to play ball unless it is for a playoff situation.