Proposed cost-cutting realignment sparks discord with small schools |

Proposed cost-cutting realignment sparks discord with small schools

When George Whittell High School battled the Sparks Railroaders in tournament play at Dayton High School last Thursday, the Warriors knew that even if they lost by a mile, it would be against a team that plays in a league two divisions larger.

Indeed, the 4A Sparks team team routed the 2A Whittell Warriors 70-45. The average Railroader was taller, faster, and with more experience. And when they tired, the depth of the Railroaders’ bench overwhelmed that of Whittell’s.

However, the Warriors might soon face the Railroaders in the same division under a geographic realignment that is currently being reviewed by the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.

Proposed by NIAA Executive Director Jerry Hughes, the plan would group schools based on geographic location and, to a lesser extent, size. Whittell, with 236 students, would be the smallest school in a new 3A North league and the Railroaders, with 1,135 students, would be the largest school.

The realignment would affect all sports except football, where the current structure would remain unchanged.

Hughes was asked by the NIAA board to come up with solutions to save money because school districts in Nevada and California are currently facing a major financial crisis.

According to a bill draft request sponsored by the Nevada Association of School Boards and the Nevada Association of School Superintendents, school district financial cuts amassed over the last three years has reached approximately $85 million.

Only four out of 17 Nevada school districts have managed to escape budget cuts, said John Soderman, Douglas County School District superintendent.

Most of the cuts have come from the state’s largest school districts such as Clark and Washoe, the latter of which cut $8 million last year to balance its budget.

Lake Tahoe Unified School District is facing more than $1 million in shortfalls due to declining enrollment.

While Douglas County has avoided significant budget reductions, Whittell would still be forced to change its classification. The idea, said WHS athletic director Brian Mehrer, has drawn virtually unanimous discord.

“Nobody that I have talked to is in agreement with this,” Mehrer said.

“If it passes, it’s going to put a big damper on our athletics for a couple reasons. First, we can’t compete with schools that have 1,200 kids … (and second) it’s tough to have kids come out when you’re getting beat time after time by these bigger schools.”

Mehrer added that Yerington’s 3A football program is going extinct because it continues to lose. The school, he said, is petitioning to move down to 2A.

“The new realignment wouldn’t include football, but I see the same thing happening with other sports like basketball,” Mehrer said.

Hughes said the plan has received favorable reviews from schools that have financial problems, and those with major travel costs such as West Wendover. He said WWHS traveled almost 100,000 miles last year and that the new proposal would cut that figure in half.

Another option that the NIAA board may consider in the future is limiting the state tournament to two teams, the No. 1 seeds from the North and South.

To learn more about how much money the realignment would save, Hughes asked each classification representative (i.e. 1A, 2A, etc.) to provide cost estimates with the new plan. That information is scheduled to be presented at the next NIAA board meeting.

The NIAA will also have informational meetings on the subject during the state basketball tournament in February in Reno.



(all sports except football)



Gerlach 28

Gabbs 30

McDermitt 62

Coleville 82

Smith Valley 84

Pyramid Lake 108

Virginia City 133

Mineral County 206


Austin 16

Lund 48

Jackpot 68

Eureka 74

Owyhee 86

Carlin 133

Round Mountain 117

Wells 150


Warren-Walker 41

Lake Mead 71

Calvary Chapel 85

Pahranagat Valley 93

Mountain View 99

Trinity Christian 103

Indian Springs 108

Beatty 124

Tonopah 158

Lincoln County 184

Laughlin 213

Spring Mountain



Whittell 236

Silver Stage 292

Incline 405

Yerington 504

North Tahoe 526

Bishop Manogue 548

Rite of Passage 550

Dayton 610

Fernley 632

Truckee 787

Sparks 1135


Pershing County 249

West Wendover 267

Independence 290

Battle Mountain 353

White Pine 393

Spring Creek 820

Lowry 986


Meadows 248

Needles 273

Faith Lutheran 442

Moapa Valley 575

Virgin Valley 593

Boulder City 738

Pahrump Valley 1004

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