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GHSA postpones reclassification until Monday

POSTED: November 16, 2011 12:31 a.m.

THOMASTON — The Georgia High School Association reclassification committee needs to resolve an issue before it puts schools in classifications for the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school years.

Members voted to reconvene on Monday to place the schools in classifications after the GHSA executive committee decides whether to keep or rescind the controversial reclassification for special needs students policy. The policy, which would allow schools to deduct special needs students from their Full Time Equivalency count for the purposes of reclassification, was passed on Aug. 29.

“If it is rescinded, there will be no option for schools to change their FTE count,” GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin said.

The FTE counts for school enrollments were released last week by the Georgia Department of Education. The numbers released are the full numbers for each school, if the policy is not rescinded, schools will then have the ability to petition to lower their count based on the number of approved special needs students at the school.

Committee members had a few issues with the policy which was first brought to the board this summer as a way to help schools with large handicapped populations not have to play at a higher classification due to students who would not be able to play athletics.

“The more we got into it, the more complicated the situation was,” Swearngin said. “It’s probably a dangerous precedent that says you can shut kids out (of sports) for two years.”

The issue for many of the members is having a student who is deemed not able to participate, and thus removed from the FTE numbers, wanting to, or being able to participate before the two school years are up.

Additionally, members expressed worry about the possibility of schools taking advantage of the new policy to try and deduct enough students to prevent rising in a classification.

There actually was another version of the policy in place decades before, but GHSA voted to end it in the 1990s and simply count the entire FTE number for each school.

If the policy is rescinded as the reclassification committee expects, members will have two years to discuss the proposal if they want to implement a different version in the future.

Regardless of the vote on Monday, the executive committee will reconvene afterward to place the schools in classes.

Unlike past years, the committee now has permission to tweak the percentages in each class to yield the fairest divisions possible, taking into account travel distances and other issues.

Above Class A, each classification will have from 14-17 percent of total schools.

This will include a sixth classification (Class AAAAAA) that was added because the GHSA has added 63 member schools since 2000.

The new timeline for the realignment procedure is as follows:


  • On Nov. 21 schools will be placed in classifications.
  • Dec. 5 is the deadline for schools at appeal to play up a classification
  • On Dec. 6, schools will be placed in regions.
  • Dec. 19 is the deadline for lateral transfer appeals between regions.
  • And on Jan. 10, the committee will convene in Macon to ratify the reclassification for the next two school years.


“We want to try to get everything done by Jan. 10,” Swearngin said.

For the area schools, many of whom are projected to change classifications and thus regions, having the reclassification finalized will allow coaches and administrators to prepare schedules for the next two years.



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