Photo: Drew Dinwiddie/Special
Photo: Drew Dinwiddie/Special

GHSA announces schools’ classifications for 2020-21

Metro Atlanta private schools Blessed Trinity, Greater Atlanta Christian, St. Pius and Woodward Academy are moving up in classification next year under the Georgia High School Association's tentative reclassification plan released Tuesday. So are city schools Buford, Calhoun and Carrollton.

Notable private schools that won't be forced up are Marist, Lovett, Pace Academy, Westminster and Benedictine. Some city schools not slated to move up are Bremen, Decatur, Dublin, Thomasville and Vidalia. 

Meanwhile, schools in Savannah and Albany appear to be unintended victims of the GHSA's new 2.0 multiplier that was designed to address perceived competitive advantages of private schools and schools from city school systems. Johnson, Groves, Beach and Islands of Savannah are moving up along with Westover, Monroe and Dougherty of Albany, although the GHSA's new reclassification rule wasn't intended for them. 

The GHSA has seven classifications based on school enrollment. For this reclassification, the GHSA adopted a 2.0 multiplier that applies to out-of-zone students and is designed to promote schools believed to have competitive advantages into higher classes. 

The 2.0 multiplier produced mixed results. 

Each of those seven private schools and city schools that are moving up finished in the top six of their classifications' all-sports standings for 2018-19. St. Pius, which is facing a two-class jump to AAAAAA, is the reigning all-sports champion in AAAA. Blessed Trinity, slated to move up one to AAAAA, finished second to St. Pius. Buford, which is moving up one to AAAAAA, finished second in the AAAAA all-sports standings. 

City schools Cartersville, Jefferson and Rome are other top-10 all-sports finishers that are moving up, but they likely would've gone up anyway because of enrollment increases from the most previous reclassification four years ago. 

The new rules don't apply to everybody. Schools with 550 or fewer students automatically are classified in Class A and are not affected by the multiplier. Smaller private and city schools such as Wesleyan, Holy Innocents', Pelham and Bowdon are not subject to being moved. Schools also may not be moved into the highest classification by the multiplier. 

The private and city schools that were targeted - but unaffected - were those with AAA and AA enrollments. Among the private schools, those included perennial AAA all-sports champion Westminster, No. 3 Lovett and No. 4 Pace Academy. Those Buckhead private schools get about 35-50 percent of their students from outside their attendance zones. Lovett, in fact, was moved down to AA, and Pace is eligible for Class A. 

By contrast, St. Pius, GAC, Woodward and Blessed Trinity get more than 75 percent of their students out of zone, and that factored in their promotion as those out-of-zone students were counted twice. 

Among city schools not affected were defending AA all-sports champion Bremen, No. 4 Vidalia and No. 9 Thomasville. Dublin, a football powerhouse that was No. 45 in the AA all-sports standings, was moved down to Class A. 

This reclassification remains tentative as schools can appeal the raw enrollment data and request to play in higher classes this month. Pace and Marist, for example, are schools that chose to play in higher classes for the current reclass cycle. After appeals, the GHSA will place schools into regions, probably around Dec. 1. 

Below is a summary of Tuesday's GHSA announcement. The classifications show each school's new class. 

Moving up: 

*AAAAAAA - Alpharetta, Dacula, Dunwoody, Gainesville, Harrison, Richmond Hill 

*AAAAAA - Buford, Carrollton, Chamblee, Denmark, East Paulding, North Springs, Northside (Columbus), Paulding County, Riverwood, Rome, South Effingham, St. Pius 

*AAAAA - Blessed Trinity, Calhoun, Cartersville, Chapel Hill, Druid Hills, Eastside, Westover, Woodward Academy 

*AAAA - Beach, Central (Macon), East Hall, Greater Atlanta Christian, Islands, Jackson County, Jefferson, Jenkins, KIPP Atlanta, Monroe, North Hall, Southeast Bulloch, Stone Mountain 

*AAA - Douglass, Hapeville Charter, Harlem, Hephzibah, Jordan, Rockmart, Spencer, Westside (Augusta) 

*AA - Riverside Military 

Note: Denmark, Northside (Columbus), St. Pius, Calhoun and KIPP Atlanta are making two-class jumps from their current classifications. 

Moving down: 

AAAAAA - Central Gwinnett, Kennesaw Mountain, Lakeside (Atlanta), Lassiter, Rockdale County, Westlake, Wheeler 

AAAAA - Apalachee, Coffee, Creekside, Drew, Forest Park, Greenbrier, M.L. King, Mount Zion (Jonesboro), Mundy's Mill, New Manchester, Northgate, Northview, Tri Cities 

AAAA - Arabia Mountain, Bainbridge, Cedar Shoals, Fayette County, Lithonia, Mays, Miller Grove, New Hampstead, Riverdale, Southwest DeKalb, Stephenson, Thomas County Central 

AAA - Americus-Sumter, Carver (Atlanta), Carver (Columbus), Cross Creek, LaFayette, Mary Persons, McDonough, Oconee County, Salem, Sandy Creek, Stephens County, Thomson, West Hall 

AA - Columbia, Cook, Fannin County, Haralson County, Kendrick, Lovett, Savannah, Towers, Worth County 

A - Armuchee, B.E.S.T Academy, Brooks County, Dublin, Metter, Pace Academy 

Private schools with the highest percentage of out-of-zone students: St. Pius (99%), Greater Atlanta Christian (98%), Savannah Christian (97%), Woodward Academy (95%), St. Francis (95%), Providence Christian (92%), Savannah Country Day (87%), Walker (86%), North Cobb Christian (85%), Whitefield Academy (84%), Calvary Day (82%), Mount de Sales (79%), Darlington (78%), Eagle's Landing Christian (77%), Mount Vernon Presbyterian (77%), Mount Paran Christian (77%), Marist (77%), KIPP Atlanta (76%), Athens Academy (75%), Blessed Trinity (75%) 

Private schools with the lowest percentage of out-of-zone students: Landmark Christian (10%), Pacelli (12%), Stratford Academy (17%), Deerfield-Windsor (22%), Strong Rock Christian (26%), Lakeview Academy (36%), Lovett (37%), Mount Pisgah Christian (40%), Benedictine (41%), First Presbyterian (43%), Westminster (44%), Pace Academy (46%), Riverside Military (47%), Fellowship Christian (50%), Heritage (Newnan) (53%), Brookstone (55%), King's Ridge (61%), Trinity Christian (62%), Tattnall Square Academy (63%), Pinecrest Academy (63%) 

Public schools with the highest percentage of out-of-zone students: Trion (69%), Gordon Lee (61%), Pelham (55%), ACE Charter (54%), Jenkins (35%), Groves (35%), Carrollton (34%), Commerce (32%), Chamblee (31%), Central (Macon) (31%), Johnson (Savannah) (31%), Islands (30%), Bremen (30%), Georgia Military College (26%), Carver (Columbus) (25%), Laney (25%), Beach (25%), Schley County (25%), Bradwell Institute (24%), Jordan (23%) 

Public schools with no reported of out-of-zone students: Berkmar, Richmond Hill, Habersham Central, Lee County, Clarke Central, Grady, Baldwin, Banks County, Southwest, Elbert County, McNair, Bryan County, Lakeside (Atlanta), Northgate, Arabia Mountain, Mary Persons, Telfair County, Manchester, McIntosh County Academy, Washington-Wilkes, Wilkinson County, Terrell County, Macon County, Turner County, Jenkins County, Towns County, Greenville, Hancock Central, Twiggs County, Randolph-Clay, Pataula Charter, Warren County, Glascock County, Central (Talbotton), Stewart County 

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