FLOWERY BRANCH — While Flowery Branch High School will be located down the street on Spout Springs Road at the start of the 2009 school year, the Falcons will remain at home in Class AAA and Region 7. At least for one more year.
"I’m sure that when the reclassification takes place we’ll be in Class AAAA," said Flowery Branch athletic director Shannon Benton, whose school’s enrollment might exceed the numbers for a Class AAA school once the Georgia High School Association undergoes its reclassification period in the fall.
But as for right now, since reclassification happens every two years, Flowery Branch will remain a Class AAA school despite the fact that its current numbers may exceed Class AAA standards.
There had been some speculation that the school might be penalized by the Georgia High School Association if its actual enrollment exceeded its projection by more than 20 percent.
That’s not the case, according to GHSA spokesman Steve Figueroa.
"Flowery Branch is staying in the same region and the same class," Figueroa said. "The opening of the new school does not impact the school this year. It would be the same if they had lost 150 students."
That’s because during the last reclassification period in 2007, Flowery Branch’s FTE (full time equivalency) enrollment projections were accurate.
"Since it was correct this year, then we don’t penalize for next year," Figueroa said.
Had the 2009 school year been a year where reclassification would take place, Flowery Branch may have been in a different situation all together.
In 2007-08 the school’s projected student enrollment was 1,344. That number should go up with the opening of the new school, which will house 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders. The ninth grade will go to school at the current Flowery Branch, but the amount of those students will go toward Flowery Branch’s FTE enrollment in the fall.
The projection of 1,344 was the fifth highest in Class AAA with only Creekview (1,358), Baldwin (1,357.5), Dunwoody (1,349.5) and Washington (1,348.5) having higher FTE enrollment projections.
A 2010 move to Class AAAA is more than likely for Flowery Branch as the school’s projected 2008-09 enrollment was only 30 less than the smallest schools in Class AAAA, Stone Mountain and Stockbridge, which both had projections of 1,373.5. (Marist, Josey, Glenn Hills, and Westside-Augusta all have enrollments of less than 1,000, but those schools requested to play in a higher classification.)
The 2010 reclassification period begins in the fall, with the projected numbers derived from the spring 2009 and fall 2009 enrollment.
"I think it’ll be beneficial," Benton said of splitting the school. "We’re going to make the best of what we got."
First-class athletic facilities are being constructed at the new location, including an eight-lane track that will allow Flowery Branch to host region and nonregion events. The current facilities will still be used, which could alleviate any issues with busing students to and from the new high school to the old one for athletic events.
"We’re looking at using the facility that we already have," Benton said. "We haven’t decided what we are going to do with the athletes being in two different locations. We want to explore all our options."