GHSA reformats classifications, schools may move

Published 3:55 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Schools across Georgia may be shifting into new classes after the Georgia High School Association added a seventh classification and adopted a new formula Monday.

The GHSA passed the new framework 47-10 at their executive committee meeting in Macon.

The new largest classification, called the Big 44, will consist of the top 10 percent of enrollment in the state, or 44 schools. The new classification would go into effect for the 2016-17 school year.

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The largest GHSA class currently, Class AAAAAA, consists of 64 schools. Classes AA-AAAAAA will now have roughly 60 schools in each classification. Class A is predicted to largely remain the same.

Another new rule declares schools with more than three percent of their student body that live outside the county of the school they are attending must play up one class.

The wording of the new rules is as follows:
It is undetermined where schools will fall into classification. The GHSA will determine the new classes later this year.
1. Proposal for structure of Classifications for 2016-18 school years as follows:
A. Non-football playing schools will not be counted when calculating the teams being placed in Class A (they will be placed in their appropriate regions later).
B. Classifications will be divided as follows:
1. Big 44 (top 10% approximately) (NOTE: Teams may opt to play up into the Big 44 class, but no team may move down).
2. Class A Public/Private (same as before except the number of playoff teams will increase from 16 public and 16 private to 24 public and 24 private in football, softball, basketball and baseball. The Public/Private school shall be allowed to play up in classification if they elect to do so. And if a school chooses to do so, then an equal number of Class AA schools will be given the option to move down to the Class A Public/Private class.
3. Five (5) other classes, which will be split at the natural breaks between 19-21% of the remaining number after Big 44 and Class A Public/Private have been set. Example: 300 schools divided by 5 will be approximately 60 schools each.
C. Attendance Zone Restriction
1. Schools accepting students from outside of their reclassification attendance zone may be subject to being placed in the next highest classification. If the percentage of students attending a school from outside that’s school’s reclassification attendance zone exceeds three (3%) percent of that school’s F.T.E. Count, then that school shall be placed in the next highest classification. Schools may opt to be placed in the Big 44. However, the attendance zone restriction in this section will not be applied so as to move a school up to the Big 44.
2. The reclassification attendance zone for ALL GHSA member schools shall be the county in which the school is located.
3. If a school is located in two counties, the school will be required to elect one of those to be its Reclassification Attendance Zone. The election shall be binding for the entire reclassification period.
4. Any school(s) that feel(s) that their placement is unfair and unjustified will be allowed to appeal to the reclassification committee. The school will present data and evidence to the committee that proves the placement is not warranted or fair to the school and the program. If the committee feels that the placement of the school into a higher classification is not warranted, then the school would be placed in a classification based on the F.T.E. count without any regard to the percentage of out-of-county students.
5. The number of students determined by multiplier will not be rounded up. Example: If a multiplier allows for 9.82 students outside of the attendance zone, 9 students will be the number that is used.
6. If a school is found to be intentionally reporting incorrect numbers, that school will be banned from participating in state playoff games for two (2) years and must pay a fine of $2,500.
D. For regions that have fewer than five (5) teams, the number of teams going to the state playoffs will be one (1) fewer than the number of teams in the region. Example: A region with four teams would get three playoff spots. The available playoff slot(s) will be awarded to non-playoff team(s) with the highest power ranking.