- Fort Smith School District
Arkansas Athletic Association - FAQs
You may have read in the Times Record that the Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) realignment plan moves Southside High School to the West Conference and leaves Northside High School in the Central Conference.
We have received some questions about the realignment and have shared some answers below.
- Who made the decision to put Northside and Southside in separate conferences?
Under Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) rules, the largest sixteen (16) schools in the state are classified as 7A for football and 6A for other sports. AAA by-laws require two conferences of eight (8). With Van Buren dropping from 7A to 6A and the addition of SW Little Rock, the West Conference and the Central Conference each has seven (7) teams assigned. In the West, schools assigned are Bentonville, Bentonville West, Rogers, Rogers Heritage, Springdale, Springdale Har-Ber, and Fayetteville. In the Central Conference, the schools assigned are Cabot, Conway, LR Central, SW Little Rock, North Little Rock, LR Catholic/Mt. St. Mary, and Bryant. The application of the by-laws requires Northside and Southside to fill the eighth slot in each conference.
- What was the determining factor for placing Northside in the 7A Central Conference and Southside in the 7A West Conference?
The AAA uses mileage to determine conference placement. The AAA took Bryant, the furthest school from Fort Smith, and determined Northside was closer to the Bryant and the Central Conference. Northside is closer to the schools in the West Conference, but the determining factor is the farthest school away.
- Did the Fort Smith Public Schools Board of Education or any employee of Fort Smith Public Schools make this decision?
No. The district continues to advocate for having both teams in one conference in a configuration that promotes student safety and academic success by limiting travel time.
- Is there anything that the Fort Smith School District can do to change these assignments?
There is an appeal process. The principals of Northside and Southside High School are the District’s representatives in the group that determines the outcome of appeals. An appeal will be filed to change this assignment. Once the Fort Smith Public Schools receives official notification from the AAA of conference assignments, the district will have twenty (20) days to file an appeal. Once the appeal has been filed, the AAA will set an appeal date for the Fort Smith Public Schools to present to the AAA Board of Directors.
- How long has it been since the two schools were in separate conferences?
Northside and Southside have been in the same conference since 1981. Prior to that, Northside was the in the AAAAA Conference and Southside was in the AAAA-West.
- What did Fort Smith Public Schools do to try and prevent the splitting of schools?
Fort Smith Public Schools was aware of the possibility Northside and Southside could be split into different conferences. With student growth in Jonesboro and new SW Little Rock HS, Fort Smith Public Schools developed a proposal for reclassification. Under the Fort Smith Public Schools proposal, the largest classification would have been changed to twenty-four (24) teams. Schools would have been divided into four conference of six. The Fort Smith Public Schools presented the proposal at the District 4 AAA Meeting in April. In order for the proposal to advance to the AAA Board and Directors and the General Governing Body, the proposal needed a majority vote from members of District 4. The proposal failed by one vote to proceed.