Today, when the University Interscholastic League announces classifications and districts for the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 school years, school districts across the state will scramble to unravel what it means for each of them.
The eagerly anticipated information will be released at 9 a.m. at the state’s 20 regional education service centers and published online.
While much of the focus will center on athletics — in particular, football — UIL realignment affects fine arts programs, academic competition and even school travel budgets.
Two of the local school districts moving to higher or lower classifications based on UIL enrollment figures are Temple and Salado.
Temple will no longer be classified with larger districts such as Belton, Killeen, Copperas Cove and Midway.
Salado, which moved down to Class 2A in 2012, will suddenly jump to Class 4A.
It’s not quite as big of a jump as it sounds, however. Salado is merely returning to the same grouping of peer schools it had following the 2010 realignment (which was then referred to as 3A).
The largest school districts, including Belton and Killeen, will now be classified as 6A schools.
Temple, meanwhile, will remain at 5A, which will mostly contain districts that were categorized as 4A in 2012-2014.
Confused? It can be a difficult process to decipher in the best of times, but with new labels for classifications, it can be even more challenging to wade through this year.
Rumors swirled in 2011 and 2012 that Temple would move to a lower classification based on a diminishing enrollment; however, Temple Independent School District managed to remain in the state’s largest classification in February 2012.
That will not be the case this year, because the high school enrollment figures submitted to the state by Temple ISD in October, an enrollment “snapshot day,” place Temple ISD firmly in the ranks of the second largest UIL classification, 5A (formerly 4A).
School districts can petition the UIL to remain in higher classifications, but Superintendent Robin Battershell said Temple ISD will remain in whatever district UIL assigns it.
“Some districts petition, and it’s primarily because of geography reasons,” she said. “Whoever they put us with, we won’t be driving four hours to get there.
“I’m very satisfied with 5A. I believe we’d be competitive in either 5A or 6A.”
Whatever the realignment results are, increased travel times are a certainty for Temple ISD students in reaching venues for athletics, fine arts and academic competition, Battershell said.
“We’ve really been fortunate the last two years to have our district so close,” she said. “We can be assured that we’ll be traveling more.”
One of the big changes is that for the first time in several years, Temple and Belton will be in different classifications, as Belton moves to Class 6A.
“We hope to continue to schedule Belton (in nondistrict play). “It makes sense to continue to compete with them because of the long-standing relationship and they are next-door neighbors,” Battershell said.
Salado ISD has competed in a larger classification before, and experienced plenty of success, including a One-Act play state championship in 2012.
“We have been on the bubble several years and we were in Class 2A for many years, but our district has been growing,” said Michael Novotny, Salado ISD superintendent.
“We’re moving back to where we were two years ago, and I don’t anticipate us dropping back down. I anticipate us staying at (the Class 4A) level for many years to come.”
Salado ISD also faces the likelihood of increased travel, Novotny said.
“Most of the (Class 4A) schools are a little farther away, so we’ll probably end up traveling a bit further (to competitions),” he said.
“The increased cost of fuel isn’t that big of a deal, but the travel time for students and parents is.”