The new realignment proposal doesn’t look very good from the point of view of Surry County Schools, and the school board weighed in on the matter at Monday’s monthly meeting.
What seems to be lost in the discussion is how much this affects learning, the SCS Board of Education believes. The proposed conferences would greatly increase the travel distance for sports teams, which would impact the amount of time student-athletes have to spend in the classroom and on their homework.
If North Surry were traveling to Mount Airy for an afternoon tennis match, the students might not miss a minute of class time. However, when the Granite Bears have to go all the way to Kernersville to face Bishop McGuinness, the players have to get out of their last period early in order to make the 53-mile trip.
And how about basketball games on a school night, asked assistant superintendent Chuck Graham, who previously was principal of Surry Central for five years. When would kids find time for studying and homework when they would return home late from a trip to Carver (44 miles from Surry Central), Walkertown (46 miles) or Atkins (48 miles)?
This is an important concern to the school board.
Not only that, but Surry County Schools has three high schools, and the school board would like to see all three in the same conference. Stokes County Schools feels the same way and wants North, South and West Stokes together.
The two school systems have teamed up with Mount Airy City Schools to push for a split 1A/2A Northwest Conference again so that their seven schools can be together. Forbush has been part of the same conference with North Surry and Surry Central and could be part of the new group, too, as proposed.
Even with some long drives — like Forbush to North Stokes — the average drive distance and drive time would still be slightly less than the plan presented by the N.C. High School Athletic Association.
It just doesn’t make sense for North Surry and Surry Central to have to drive right past East Surry on the way to Winston-Salem, noted Surry County Schools athletic director Tom Hemmings.
Putting these eight teams together, however, could create a ripple effect for the other team from the Northwest and Western Piedmont conferences. The local school systems, therefore, also concocted an alternate plan that looks at the impact on four proposed leagues.
Hemmings presented the plan to the school board Monday night.
It would create a new 1A/2A conference for the Winston-Salem schools (Atkins, Walkertown, Carver and Winston-Salem Prep), Bishop McGuiness and two new schools in Lexington and Thomasville.
Lexington right now is part of a Conference O that would have nine teams. Pulling out Lexington would make a better eight-team league.
Thomasville is part of Conference P, but moving that team out of the league would allow Wheatmore to join Andrews and Trinity, which are in its neck of the woods. Wheatmore opened in 2008 to take some of the overcrowding away from Trinity, so they naturally should be together, too.
The proposed Winston-Salem conference would actually be quite beneficial for those schools, according to the plan.
With Carver and the rest playing each other, the average driving distance between conference schools would be only 15.2 miles, said Graham.
Hemmings admitted that Forbush isn’t chomping at the bit to be in this proposed alignment, either. The Falcons would prefer to be back in the Mountain Valley 1A/2A Conference. However, if that is not possible, Forbush said it would rather go with this Surry/Stokes plan than the NCHSAA’s plan.
Surry County Schools will present this proposal at the Western realignment meeting on Feb. 10 in Lincolnton.