Some Unfinished Ideas Leave Section Discussion in Pieces

You might be feeling a bit woozy, Orange County principals. But don't worry, it will pass. Relax, take some deep breaths. That CIF-Orange Section stress syndrome will be gone before you know it.

If you missed Wednesday's meeting--where county principals and superintendents again discussed formation of a local section of the CIF--you're no doubt in the dark about the latest developments. If so, consider yourself lucky.

You didn't have to sit through two hours of uncertainty. You weren't forced to listen to a theory on New Age Athletics. You didn't need to put your head between your knees to keep from passing out.

This isn't to say the meeting was a waste, of course. It's just that by the time it came to an end, most of the principals were looking a wee bit pale. Maybe that was due to the lack of air conditioning at the Anaheim Stadium conference room or the dizzying effect of its diamond-patterned carpeting. It's difficult to say for sure.

The only certainty seemed to be uncertainty. The 65 or so principals who attended the meeting came expecting a briefing on the new, wondrous Orange Section, years in the making, perhaps a reality at last. By the end of the meeting, though, feelings ranged from anger and confusion to apathy and disgust.

Unpleasant Issue No. 1: Weighted voting. According to the new section constitution, schools with larger enrollments would be given more votes on decisions involving policies and bylaws than schools with smaller enrollments. This went over about as well as a cat at a canine convention.

"I don't buy that!" one principal said.

"Me neither!"

"So Santiago (high school) would get twice as many votes as I would? Ridiculous."

A quick show of hands told the section's steering committee the principals favored a one-school, one-vote governance. No one made any guarantees, though, whether that vote would make a difference.

Unpleasant Issue No. 2: Including one school board member and two superintendents on the section's Executive Committee.

"That's just great," one principal groaned. "We're losing even more control."

"Yeah," said another. "Just what superintendents need--more power and a bigger ego."

Ego? Control? As if on cue, Peter Hartman, superintendent of Saddleback Valley Unified, rose from his front-row seat, turned and began to address the crowd.

Hartman seemed to assume the principals would know who he was. Many didn't. In fact, as Hartman graced the room with his eloquence--basically saying the reason superintendents want to pull out of the principal-run Southern Section is because they want more control--the only sound you could hear outside Hartman's booming voice was that of a roomful of eyes rolling in their sockets.

During one point, the principals were told they would be expected to volunteer their time for a variety of organizational duties. At least one man laughed at loud.

Certainly, no new organization gets off the ground without some squabbling. Everyone has different viewpoints and ideas as to how it should be run. It's like being on a long drive with a limited selection of cassette tapes. You want to listen to U2 or Ned's Atomic Dustbin. Some joker in the back seat begs for Billy Ray Cyrus. You make a deal--U2 now, Ned's later and Billy Ray, uh . . . some other time. Compromise, pure and simple.

Whether organizers of the Orange Section can work this concept into their plans remains to be seen. Although Wednesday's meeting was said to be for open discussion and input, a few items discussed were deemed "non-negotiable." Facial expressions had a heyday with that one.

Unfortunately, time restraints Wednesday made it impossible to cover the full agenda. There wasn't any discussion on the Orange Section's proposed policy on attorneys (they won't be allowed to attend hearings) or the commissioner's expected salary ($75,000) or the potentially troublesome effect the CIF's upcoming restructuring plan might have on any of its sections, Orange or otherwise.

Actually, many of the principals seemed ready to call it quits after 30 minutes.

"Well," meeting moderator Carol Hart asked the crowd as she studied her agenda, "where would you all like to go from here?"

"HOME!" everyone said.

At least it got everyone laughing.

Barbie Ludovise's column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Readers may reach Ludovise by writing her at The Times Orange County Edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, 92626, or by calling (714) 966-5847.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World