GHSA’s new multiplier could bump schools up 2 classes

The Georgia High School Association’s executive committee voted today in Macon to apply a 2.0 multiplier to out-of-district enrollment when classifying schools beginning in 2020. The move, ostensibly designed to push some private and city schools into higher classifications, was expected.

Surprising was that the executive committee declined the reclassification committee’s August recommendation to limit schools to a one-classification jump. Instead, the GHSA by vote of 46-21 will allow two-class jumps when the newly adopted multiplier dictates it.

The reclassification committee had argued that a two-class jump would jeopardize the safety of student-athletes, especially in a contact sports such as football. Dr. Jim Finch, principal at Mary Persons High, strongly pushed for allowing the two-class bump, which in 2020 could thrust some of Mary Persons’ Class AAAA rivals such as private schools Woodward Academy and St. Pius into AAAAA.

‘’GHSA schools play larger schools that are two classifications and sometimes more all the time,’’ Finch told AJC.com last month. “Now, I acknowledge that schools are choosing to do that. But it still occurs many times, nonetheless, and not once do you hear about player safety.’’

Using a multiplier of 2.0, the GHSA will count twice any student who lives outside a school’s attendance zone for purposes of classification. For example, schools with 800 students overall and 200 living outside the attendance zone would be classified as having 1,000 students.

The effect of the multiplier won’t be known until the GHSA receives enrollment numbers and data from all member schools and the Department of Education. That is not expected to be complete until late October at the earliest. 

In 2016, the GHSA attempted to address schools that get a high number of out-of-district students with what was called a 3-percent rule. Schools that received more than 3 percent of its students from outside its county were candidates to move up one classification. The guideline, now abolished, effectively moved up eight larger private schools, including Marist, Westminster and Blessed Trinity, but had almost no effect on city schools that remained dominant in all-sports standings.

In other votes Monday, the GHSA:

- Retained its current seven classifications and defined Class AAAAAAA as the largest 10 percent of schools and Class A as the smallest 20 percent, with some wiggle room.

- Approved splitting Class A into eight public-school regions and eight private-school regions.

- Eliminated power ratings in all classifications beginning in 2020.

- Mandated three-person officiating crews for basketball beginning next academy year. JV games may still use only two on-court officials.

- Ruled that the designated home team for the third game of a best-of-three softball or baseball series be the higher-seeded team and not determined by a coin toss, effective immediately.

- Ruled that lacrosse may no longer have ties and must use a standard overtime procedure used in the state playoffs. 

- Approved for tennis a 10-point tiebreaker in lieu of a full third set or an eight-game pro sets instead of full matches in non-state tournament matches with approval from affected coaches.

- Approved raises for officials in all sports.

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