WPIAL notebook: Debate grows over separate playoffs

Monday, May 14, 2018 | 9:15 PM

The WPIAL isn't the only PIAA district debating boundary and non-boundary schools.

New Castle superintendent John Sarandrea told the WPIAL board Monday that he has contacted superintendents from across the state and found public school administrators want to change the current playoff format that groups public, charter and private schools into one tournament.

About two dozen school boards already have adopted a resolution written by Laurel superintendent Leonard Rich that supports separate postseasons, Sarandrea said.

“I'm getting feedback daily,” Sarandrea told the WPIAL board, “and the results are what you might think they would be. I've talked directly with the superintendent of the Philadelphia schools and the Pittsburgh schools, the two largest school districts in the state, along with the third-largest district, the Central Bucks School District.

“All of the superintendents were in agreement that something needed to be done.”

The WPIAL sent a survey to member schools last month, and results showed 90 percent believed non-boundary schools held a competitive advantage over traditional public schools. As a result, 86 percent said they favored separate playoff tournaments.

Now, other PIAA districts are soliciting feedback in response to the WPIAL questionnaire, Sarandrea said. Superintendents in District 10, the WPIAL's neighbor to the north, sent a survey to its members. Those results were expected this week.

“When I was asked by my peers (in Intermediate Unit IV) to be the WPIAL representative, one of the things they made clear to me was they wanted this issue addressed,” said Sarandrea, who is in his first year as the WPIAL board's superintendent representative.

“I promised them that I would address it and see what kind of traction and feedback we would get. Quite frankly, we've got quite a bit.”

Sarandrea said he and WPIAL executive director Tim O'Malley were scheduled to meet this week with state Rep. Rob Matzie of Beaver County and state Sen. Jay Costa from Allegheny County.

PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi has said the boundary vs. nonboundary debate is an issue for the state legislature, not the PIAA board. Sarandrea disagrees.

“Here's the misconception that's out there,” Sarandrea said. “While members of the PIAA board will tell you that the choice lies strictly with the legislators, the legislators will tell you point blank that it absolutely, positively does not. It's a PIAA decision.”

RMU keeps 2A football final

The WPIAL Class 2A football final will return to Robert Morris this fall, but a decision about Class 5A must wait.

The WPIAL board voted Monday to keep the Class 2A final at Walton Stadium in Moon, which has hosted the title game the past two seasons.

However, the WPIAL needs a separate site for the Class 5A final because the crowd likely wouldn't fit RMU's 3,000-seat stadium.

The WPIAL received bids from Geneva, North Allegheny and Norwin to host the Class 5A final. Members of the WPIAL board will visit those sites before making a decision, O'Malley said.

The WPIAL requested bids from area colleges and the nine Class 6A schools, if interested.

RMU hosted both the Class 2A and A finals the past two seasons.

Updated PIAA playoff brackets for 2018 and '19 changed the WPIAL championship schedule.

The Class 6A, 4A, 3A and A finals will be played together Nov. 16 or 17 at Heinz Field. Class 5A and 2A are Nov. 23 or 24.

Scholar-athlete awards

The WPIAL awarded $1,000 scholarships to 21 students at the annual scholar-athlete banquet Monday at the DoubleTree in Green Tree.

Chris Harlan is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at charlan@tribweb.com or via Twitter @CHarlan_Trib.

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