On Monday, Feb. 1 the UIL announced the new district maps as part of their biennial reclassification and district realignment. One of the changes affecting our area is the move of Calallen Independent School District from District 30 to District 29. School and public officials have already voiced their objections as well as inquired and taken the steps to appeal this decision.

According to the UIL's redistricting for the fall 2016 through spring 2018 school years Calallen student would now be competing in District 29 beginning this fall. This would mean competing against schools in San Antonio and as far away as Uvalde and Eagle Pass.

With the extended length of travel, there are safety concerns for everyone involved. State Representative Abel Herrero has spoken to Calallen officials and written a letter to the director of the UIL in which he states that safety, academics, and costs are going to be negatively impacted by the redistricting. According to Herrero, the safety of the students will be affected due to the lack of quality sleep and the greater risk of being on the road longer “The students' safety and well-being will be affected by traveling over three to four hours, said Herrero.

Herrero's sentiments mirror those of Calallen Superintendent Dr. Arturo Almendarez. “It is absolutely devastating, the time for travel is virtually doubled,” said Almendarez, “it's not just about football. Other teams have games and events in the middle of the week and academics will suffer due to students not getting enough rest.”

Almendarez and Herrero also agreed that students would need to leave earlier, get home later and this would lead to less instruction hours for students and they may be at greater risk of falling behind. “One of my constituents told me that she was pulling her son out of football because she wants him to focus on academics,” said Herrero.

Another consideration is the increased cost for trips. The longer distances will mean more fuel needed, more wear and tear on vehicles and more money spent on food and snacks to cover the added time away from home. Another possibility may be the necessity of having to spend more money on hotels due to the early start times or late end times of some events. All of these costs do not fall solely on the school district but also on the families and friends of participants who wish to see their students perform.

Dr. Almendarez has already begun the appeal process and had letters sent to all of the school superintendents and high school principals in both UIL districts to try to get their approval. According to UIL Media Coordinator Kate Hector, the Calallen School District has two options for appeal. The first is unanimous approval of the school districts in the new and old UIL districts. The second is a direct appeal to the District Assignment Committee who will meet on Feb. 18, 2016. “Each appeal is considered individually and the committee is equally receptive to all considerations,” said Hector. The Committee's decisions are based on factors such as geography and number of teams in a district. The deadline to have either or both appeals submitted in full is Feb. 11, 2016.

The UIL does not fall under the scope of the state legislature but Herrero has reached out to local school districts to ask them to approve the appeal. “I think in working together collectively, we can get them to consider or reconsider their decision.”