Monday May 29th, 2023 4:14AM

Private schools focus of GHSA Reclass Committee

By Jeff Hart Sports Reporter

THOMASTON — The Georgia High School Association Reclassification Committee met on Thursday to discuss several recent proposals concerning the possible movement and placement of the state’s nine largest private schools -- Greater Atlanta Christian, Pace Academy, Lovett, Westminster, Marist, Benedictine, Blessed Trinity, St. Pius and Woodward Academy.

The nine schools are currently scattered from Class 2A to Class 5A. The rest of the state’s private institutions, except for Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville, play in Class A Private as a separate classification. Riverside currently plays in Class 2A.

At the heart of the Committee meeting was competitive balance in the lower classifications, where Private schools won 21 state championships. Several proposals in recent days and weeks have been put forward ranging from moving the larger private schools like St. Pius, Woodward, and Blessed Trinity into Class 7A, to increasing the out-of-zone multipliers to as high as 3.0, and to even dropping them from from 2.0 to 1.5.

No votes were taken and in the end GHSA Executive Director Robin Hines, along with the Committee, agreed that another meeting prior to the Fall State Executive Committee was needed.

Below is the full transcript of Thursday’s Reclassification Committee meeting:

President Glenn White called the meeting to order, then turned it over to committee chairman Curt Miller. Miller started by thanking all the people who had spent time and effort working on ideas and proposals.

Miller then called on Tim Hardy, the AD from Greater Atlanta Christian School, to speak on the latest proposal from the large private schools, which calls for GACS, Pace Academy and Lovett to go down to Class A, with Westminster, Marist and Benedictine in Class 4A, and Blessed Trinity, St. Pius and Woodward in Class 5A along with a “competitive balance” formula that would see individual sports at the six 4A and 5A schools playing in higher classifications if their success rate the past two years reached a certain level.

Jim Finch said he was not for the competitive balance part of the idea, but could support the proposal if the six larger schools were put into 5A and 6A instead of 4A and 5A. Davis Russell pointed out that the competitive balance formula would lump the double-gender sports together even if one of those teams was not as successful as the other, which he said was not fair. Many others on the committee agreed.

Chris Hanson also said that this proposal was not popular with many of the Class A private schools, as they did not want GACS, Lovett and Pace Academy coming down into that classification.

A proposal from the Muscogee County School District to lower the out-of-zone multiplier from 2.0 to 1.5 was briefly discussed, but did not receive much support.

An issue that did seem to have support was changing the wording in the GHSA Constitution that currently exempts children of “teachers” at each member high school (grades 9-12) from the multiplier. Several committee members spoke of changing this exemption to children of any certified professional working at the high school, not just teachers. It was agreed that this proposal would be made to the full state executive committee in October.

Miller then called upon Central-Carroll Principal Jared Griffis to explain a new proposal just finished prior to the meeting. This proposal would apply a 2.0 multiplier to all GHSA member schools with less than 15 percent out-of-zone students, a 2.5 multiplier for all schools with between 15-25% out-of-zone students and a 3.0 multiplier to all schools with more than 25% out-of-zone students.

This new proposal was supported by several members of the committee since it applied equally to all member schools and was fair across the board.

However, representatives of larger private schools in the audience strongly objected to it since several of them have extremely large percentages of out-of-zone students and would therefore be bumped up 3 or 4 classes, which they contended was unfair.

Following a spirited discussion, Miller told the committee it was time to start narrowing the choices, if possible, so he called for some straw votes on the current proposals, pointing out that these were not binding votes and everything this committee recommended would still have to be ratified by the full State Executive Committee at the Fall meeting in October.

Miller first called for a show of hands from committee members who supported putting the larger private schools in their own bracket at playoff time and having them compete for a separate state championship. None of the committee supported that idea. Miller himself had proposed the idea at a previous Reclassification Committee meeting, but said also had changed his mind.

Glenn White then made a proposal to modify the private school idea by putting GACS and Lovett into 4A, Westminster, Marist and Benedictine into 5A, and Blessed Trinity, St. Pius and Woodward into 6A, while doing away with the competitive balance formula component. White’s idea found favor with several members of the committee, but the reps from the private schools in the audience objected strongly, saying that this was not a modification of their proposal, but a completely different idea. After much discussion, White withdrew his motion.

Miller then made a counter proposal, calling for a 3.0 multiplier for all member schools not in Class A. Again, the private school reps in the audience objected strongly, voicing the opinion that this would unfairly punish them since such a large portion of their student bodies would be deemed out-of-zone. Finch, who had filed a proposal prior to the meeting to eliminate the two-class cap on schools moved up by the multiplier, then offered to withdraw his proposal, leaving the current two-class cap in place.

Representative of the private schools again brought up the competitive balance formula, saying they would rather use that than a larger multiplier. Miller asked the committee for a show of hands of all who supported a competitive balance formula. The three private school reps on the committee were the only ones to vote in favor. 

Randy McPherson then spoke up and suggested a compromise of a 2.5 multiplier on all member schools with no cap on the number of classes a school could be bumped up. After some discussion, Miller called for a straw vote and 11 members of the committee indicated their support for the plan.

Miller then called for a straw vote on allowing schools to be bumped up into Class 7A by the multiplier, which is currently not allowed. There were 14 affirmative votes on that idea. 

Emphasizing that nothing done at this meeting was binding, Miller called upon Executive Director Robin Hines, who asked the committee if they felt another meeting prior to the Fall State Executive Committee meeting was needed. Most agreed it was so Hines said he would set the date for another meeting in the near future. 

Miller thanked the committee and the audience for “a great dialogue today.”

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