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2017 VHSL New Alignment for all Virginia Public Schools
by: Ted Proctor

2017 VHSL New Alignment for all Virginia Public Schools

As the 2016-17 school year ends the Virginia High School League (VHSL) has been busy realigning all public high schools into new Regions and Districts for the start of the 2017-18 school year.

Based on student population and enrollment, the VHSL, whom is the governing body that regulates all the public high schools in the Commonwealth of Virginia, has gone public with these new alignments. They will stay intact for two consecutive years.

As the VHSL’s first adoption plan became final in late 2016 you found changes occurring rapidly in all classifications. One change had them doing away with the current first level Conferences and renaming them back to Districts.

For years Districts had been the first level of the post season play and the past four years Conferences held the title. The VHSL also took steps to restructure each Region classification to four Regions while moving schools to different classifications.

Student Population:
As Fauquier HS’s student populations over the past four years have shown slow growth to 1279 students, the 2016 VHSL adjustment plan ranked them at 141 out of 317 public high schools in the state according to size. This indicated to have Fauquier still resting within the 4A classification.

Every two years the VHSL looks at high school populations when conducting these assessments of alignment and adjusts schools accordingly. The other two Fauquier County schools had Kettle Run resting at 1219 students and Liberty with 1191 students as they also hold the 4A classification.

The complete breakdown of the VHSL public schools is listed here: March-31-2016-ADM-numbers

History of the VHSL Classification:
Prior to the 2012-13 school year the VHSL classification only had three classifications - A, AA, and AAA. At this time the Fauquier Falcons then were aligned as AA classification, but did jump up to AAA classification for a period of time over the past 30 plus years.

Since the start of the 2012-13 school year Fauquier has been classified as a 4A school in the state and will continue to compete in athletics at this level. During the time frame the VHSL also eliminated Districts and created Conferences. Some may have viewed this as name changing effect.

District Returns:
As the VHSL completes this new realignment you somewhat find them regrouping the 6A and 5A, 4A and 3A, and the 2A and 1A classification schools together into the Districts.

A closer look at these VHSL Districts may show no changes from the year before but many Districts have different classifications that are bundled together. One primary reason that the VHSL does re-align public schools is to equalize competitive fairness based on the relevant school size in all sports and activities.

As we say bye to Conference 22 you will find Fauquier being aligned into the Northwestern District which had the Falcons competing in this same District a few years ago.

Not to overlook anything, you will still find county foes Kettle Run HS and Liberty HS also residing in this same District, Region, and the 4A State.

The Northwestern District will have a make-up of 13 schools spanning from Fauquier to Winchester and will be one of the biggest Districts in the state - The Northwestern District schools are shown below:

Northwestern Dist. Division
Brentsville 3A
Culpeper County 3A
Fauquier 4A
Handley 4A
Kettle Run 4A
Liberty (Beal) 4A
Manassas Park 3A
Millbrook 4A
Monroe, William 3A
Sherando 4A
Skyline 3A
James Wood 4A
Warren County 3A

Question for Coach Fisher: Having 13 teams in this Northwestern District for 2017-18 and one of the biggest Districts in the State, do you foresee having matches or wrestling all these teams through a season time?

Fisher: "I don’t believe that is the plan. Having the district so big virtually guarantees that we won’t be able to wrestle everyone."

The following link will show the complete list of VHSL District alignment plans for all public schools in the state of Virginia: alignment-2017-18-2018-19-final-district-alignment-plan

Region Adjustment:
A closer look at the new VHSL Region adopted alignment will also show major changes across the state. Regions are a collection of schools by their state classifications which meets the mid-level post season Championship event for state advancements.

Over the past four years the VHSL State classifications were built around having only two Regions - a North and South or an East and West Region. The VHSL now has changed the Region structure back to how it was before 2012, having four Regions for each of the six state classifications. The VHSL has called them Region A, B, C, and D.

Currently Fauquier lies in the 4A-Region (C) as this Region currently has 14 high schools aligned to it. The 4A Region (A) currently has 13 schools, Region (B) has 13 schools, and Region (D) has 11 total schools for a total number of 52 4A high schools.

Question for Coach Fisher: Looking at the make-up of the 4A-Region C and also the biggest Region in the 4A classifications, any comments with foe teams?

Fisher: "I like the challenge. I believe our schedule prepares us well for a tough postseason."

Question for Coach Fisher: One of the bigger matters that may surface is the plan of the District Finals and advancement to Region. Having only two Districts that makeup 4A-Region C (Northwestern and the Dulles District) seems to be more complexed than before, any thoughts or opinions on how the Districts should advance teams and or individuals onto Regions?

Fisher: "I do like the 3A approach of everyone qualifies to regionals. Regardless of district tournament results. With the combination of 3A and 4A teams in the district, I think that makes the most sense."

The following link is the complete VHSL Regional alignment plan: alignment-final-24-region-alignment-plan

Post-Season Competition:
In past years and discussing the sport of wrestling for example, teams only could advance top four individuals in the Conference/District to quality for the Regional Championship. Historically Regions has consistently been structured to a 16-man brackets.

Other sports may have had a different Regional format but with the State expanding to four Regions it is clearly uncertain at this moment if these post season guidelines will mirror past years, which leaves us guessing for now.

Question for Coach Fisher: Moving back to a four Region structure which sustain participants onto States, it looks as though the VHSL will be going back to a 16-man individual bracket. Got to believe coaches will like this (thoughts)?

Fisher: "Consensus is that a 16-man bracket at states makes the most sense. Unfortunately, there are six public school divisions and with slightly over 300 public schools in total. That translates to roughly 1 in 3 varsity wrestlers will be at the state tournament which I believe is on the extreme high side."

As all high schools across the state are grouped into these new District and Region alignments with different classifications, questions will continue to arise through this summer and the start of next school year. One has to believe there are high school coaches across the state of Virginia also scratching their foreheads pondering the post season play.

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