PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend High School athletic department isn’t going anywhere.
Port Townsend School District Superintendent Gene Laes announced to coaches his decision to keep the Class 1A school in the Olympic League for the 2012-14 classification cycle Thursday morning.
The decision came after months of debate among school administrators, students and community members.
The two choices: Stay in the Olympic League as the lone 1A school in a predominantly 2A league, or move to the 1A Nisqually where it would compete among like-sized schools.
In the end, finances and proximity won out, as Laes opted to keep the school in the Olympic, where the farthest drive is a 60-mile trek to North Mason in Belfair.
The Nisqually, on the other hand, consists mainly of private schools in the Seattle/Tacoma area.
That would have resulted in significant increases in travel expenses for the district — high school athletic director Patrick Kane said those numbers could have swelled from $33,000 to upwards of $60,000.
It also would have led to more missed class time for students, who would have to routinely travel across the Narrows Bridge for road games.
For a district that just cut its middle school athletic programs, that proved to be too much to justify a move to a more competitive situation in the Nisqually League.
A public meeting was held to discuss both options, with athletic director Kane arguing for a move to the Nisqually and high school principal Carrie Ehrhardt favoring the Olympic.
Several coaches voiced support for a move to the Nisqually, among them the cross country, basketball, baseball, softball, golf and wrestling coaches, according to Redskin cross country coach Jennifer Little.
A small handful of coaches wanted to stay in the Olympic, with natural rivals like Sequim and Port Angeles.
“The general feeling at the meeting was that we shouldn’t keep setting the kids up to fail and that we could find solutions to the transportation issue,” Little wrote in an email.
Instead, only the Port Townsend football team will remain a part of the Nisqually, as it has been for the last four years.
The rest will compete in the Olympic, including programs like wrestling, tennis and cross country that combine with Chimacum.The Redskins’ Quimper Peninsula rivals, Chimacum, will remain in the Nisqually for all other sports.