On April 29, the KSHSAA Board of Directors considered changes to KSHSAA Rule 5–Classification of Senior High Schools. Following discussion and deliberation, the board supported the first step in the process to change school classification. This proposal introduces a “multiplier” for private schools, which inflates their enrollment number for classification purposes. Per board approval, the next step in the process was to assess the opinion of member schools in the Association.
In short, the multiplier would be used on any private school that has won five or more state team championships in the most recent five school years. Factors that will be considered include the number of state championships, the geographic population (the public school attendance in which the private school is located), and the socio-economic population (the percentage of students that qualify for free/reduced meals).
According to Brent Unruh, Office and Operations Manager at KSHSAA, 11 of the 28 private schools would have had a multiplier applied to their enrollment count this year had it been in effect, based on a five year championship history.
The vote was initiated on May 6, via a ballot distributed to all principals and superintendents of member schools via e-mail. Ballot submission from each member school was due June 14.
KSHSAA Bylaw Article XII, Section 4 requires the majority of the membership to approve a classification proposal (in this case, 177 of the 353 member schools), and to be supported by a majority of schools from the majority of classifications impacted (in this case, four out of the six enrollment classifications).
In the end, 216 (61.2 percent) of member schools voted for the changes. Four of the six classes—1A, 2A, 3A, and 4A—easily voted in favor. Class 5A voted no by two votes.
Kansas Publishing Ventures reached out to local athletic directors to see how schools voted. Only a few responded and for all of those who did voted in favor of the proposed changes.
Brian Lightner, athletic director for USD-411, said he doesn’t foresee the potential changes affecting Goessel in any significant way.
“We are not surprised by the outcome of the vote and understand there are a couple of more steps that will need to take place before anything actually changes,” Lightner said. “This will not affect our league and we will not be changing our schedule due to this potential multiplier.”
The more steps that Lightner refers to include the next steps in the approval process.
A change must now be made to Kansas state statute to allow for more than just student attendance to affect KSHSAA classifications. State of Kansas identifying statutes need to be approved by both the state board of education and the state legislature before implementation. Without these approvals, the school-approved amendment would not be permissible.
Unruh said the earliest the new multiplier rule could be implemented would be the 2023-2024 school year.
“It’ll go to the state board of education sometime before the legislature is back in session in January of 2023,” Unruh said. “It’ll be up to if the state board approves it, then they’ll be the ones that introduce it to the legislature.”
USD-460 (Hesston) Athletic Director Clint Stoppel was in favor of the rule change and likewise wasn’t surprised by the results of the vote.
“It really shouldn’t impact our scheduling for Hesston or the league,” Stoppel said. “It would only impact post-season private schools that we might see. So, a Collegiate or Wichita Trinity might potentially move up (from 3A to 4A) while a Pittsburg Colman might move into the picture.”
USD-373 Board of Education decided to vote in favor of the proposal, according to athletic director Brian Becker. He wasn’t surprised by the results or that the majority of smaller classification schools were in support of it and the larger classification schools (5A/6A) were primarily against the proposal.
“It will not affect our scheduling or our league if it passes,” Becker said. “It could have some impact on our playoff runs as it may take Bishop Carroll and Kapaun Mt. Carmel out of our classification in various activities, which also means the addition of other schools. The proposal itself does not impact Newton much as the 5A classification stands to lose a few private schools that would move to 6A, but would gain a few private schools that would move up from 4A.”
Nicholas Barnes, USD-440 Halstead Athletic Director, also wasn’t surprised by the results.
“We play in a 10-team small classification conference, therefore a lot of our scheduling comes from within our league,” Barnes said. “I’m sure all teams will be affected in the playoffs one way or another.”
USD-408 (Marion) athletic director Jason Hett said he figured the proposal would pass in the lower classifications.
“I do not look for this to affect our schedule within our league and out of the league,” Hett said.
Unruh didn’t venture a guess at what will happen next in the process as the issue goes to the state board of education and the legislature.
“We really have no idea how it’s going to go,” Unruh said. “You just never know when you’re in these kinds of situations. It could go any direction.”