(EDITOR’S NOTE: Here is the text of Vilonia principal Matt Sewell’s argument against Proposal 9, which passed by two votes at the AAA Governing Body meeting):

"Everytime I see someone speak on certain proposals, I always ask what is in it for them. More chances to win a state title, travel, what is it. For me it is not really about state titles. We aren’t blessed with great athletes but we have great kids and coaches. Some years we are going to compete for titles and some years we’re not.

For us it is not about travel … we have had to travel Paragould, Greene County tech, Marion, Wynne, Batesville, Mountain Home, Huntsville, Harrison, Siloam Springs, Greenwood,and Alma in conference play. Where we are located, you never know where we will go. I’m speaking against Proposal 9 today because I don’t believe it is what is in the best interest of kids and communities. I’m also speaking against Proposal 9 because I believe it is an effort to please a few elected officials that have no idea about school business and to fix a problem for a small group of schools who, in my opinion, created their problem.

What is this proposal really about? Is it about what is best for kids and communities? Can’t be about that. If it is about that, superintendents, principals, AD’s — how will you explain to kids, parents, and your community why it is acceptable to compete at one level of competition in football and a totally different level of competition in everything else. The only thing we would all be able to agree on about that is that this proposal will create an inherent unfairness in the level of competition among sports.

Is it about competition or travel? No … maybe. According to the AAA, 10 schools in the state have a legitimate travel issue. I’m not sure exactly which schools those are but unless someone in here develops a Star Trek transporter, these schools will always have travel issues. We’ve gone to some of these schools for conference and nonconference play. It can’t be about competition, I already mentioned the inherent unfairness between sports On top of that, there will be a disproportionate amount of state titles awarded to those schools moving down in classification.

It’s definitely not about consistency! The waythe representatives from the AAA started each activity district meeting is by talking about their meetings with superintendents and how the superintendents hated the blend but loved the way we did football. If that was the case, the consistent thing to dowould be to play the schools in your football conference. A collective group of AD’s and principals worked together to write a proposal that did just that. You guys will not get to vote on that today because it did not pass in our activity district. Ourproposal was only short three votes to pass. Maybe it didn’t pass because it was a bad proposal. Maybe it didn’t pass because a AAA representative warned everyone in the meeting just before voting that if it passed, there would be two proposals and we would we bestuck with the blend for another cycle. Or maybe it was because we had a 7A school who had a few more than three votes vote against it, which was funny because neither proposal affects 7A at all.

It can’t be about consistency because this proposal will takeaway the comaraderie/relationships among conferences and schools of the same classification.

What will happen to the principals’ associations?

I can’t speak for the others, but 5A Principals Association will probably no longer exist. We have always enjoyed working collectively to make decisions for our kids on things other than athletics but have used our classification to determine where we belong.As the treasurer of our organization, {I know} we have used our money to purchase all conference plaques and awards for each sport and provided scholarships to our student athletes as well as 5A all-sport passes to each school. That will no longer exist.

What is it really about? Where is it going? Wheredoes it stop? I am not real sure, but I have an idea. Many have different theories and speculations. Some say this goes back to and is a result of 6A not wanting to compete against 7A because they were too big. Remember everyone screaming in the background,"football is a man power sport." It is, but what sport is not a manpower sport? My interpretation of that statement was really, "We can’t beat Barry Lunney and Gus Malzahn." And most couldn’t beat those guys when they were at Hughes, Beebe, Shiloh, South Side, Springdale, or Bentonville. Most of those schools were not winners when those men arrived on campus.

Once this split occurred the next issue that cameup for 6A schools because of the split had to deal with travel. Recombining would have resolved this issue immediately, but that wasn’t an option. At this time, 6A schools invited all the 5A schools to the AAA building to discuss a proposal they had to combine 6A with the largest 16 5A schools. I believe if Proposal 9 passes, most everyone will hate it and this will be the next proposal in two years. This has been the direction all along. I was the AD at Vilonia during the time this was proposed. Thisproposal would have done essentially what Proposal 9 will do with the exception of football. At that time it didn’t appear that anyone at that meeting, except 6A schools, was excited about the discussion.

Off the heels of this, gas prices skyrocketed to $4 per gallon and the legislature became very interested in athletic expenditures. Since then, it is my understanding that Lance Taylor has been summoned to the "white house," (as he referred to the state capitol at our activity district meeting), on more thanone occasion, where he has been pressured and threatened that if certain issues weren’t addressed or resolved to certain individuals’ likings, then our term-limited elected officials, would write bills to legislate or essentially take over the decision makingpower of the AAA. Through this process is how we ended up with the blend.

I have a fundamental issue with that. I have heardmany of you say that AAA is our organization we need to support it. I agree. I have heard Lance Taylor say that the AAA is our organization and we decide what happens with it. This is where I’m having a little trouble. If it’s our organization then why arewe allowing our term limited elected officials to dictate what happens with our organization? The education profession is the most powerful organization in the state of Arkansas and our superintendents displayed that power this past spring by shutting downHB 1222, which would have taken public funds out of public schools and sent it to the private sector. If the AAA communicates this information to us, then we support them in this very way.

If it’s our organization, then why haven’t we been invited to theseprivate meetings, "for superintendents only", when principals and athletic directors are the ones dealing with the organization and issues related to athletics 365 days a year.

There has been so many things dealing with thisproposal that, again in my opinion, seem shady that I question if this is our organization. From members of the AAA asking Fred Walker to submit this proposal at their activity district meeting to coach (Steve) Roberts reminding everyone at our activity district meeting that if the proposal that I submitted passed that it could split the votes here today and we would left with the blend. That is not the role of our organization. I would also speculate, with a high level of certainty, that the AAA board was strongly encouraged to be unanimous in the decision for a do-pass, but I know for a fact that not all of them believe this should pass.

I hate the blend but I hate Proposal 9 more because I believe it is not equitable for our kids, it’s not consistent for our schools in competition or in allowing for the development of consistent expectation and working out issues with member schools of the same conference and classification, nor does it resolve travel issues that always have and always will be issue. As much as I hate the blend, I would rather have two more years of it to have the time to develop and discuss better options then having this thing shoved down my throat at the last minute. For these reasons

I ask that you vote no with me on Proposal 9."