As if reclassification wasn’t confusing enough, the process has been tweaked.
On Monday, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Executive Board voted to adjust the number of schools that will be assigned to 3A and 2A. The largest 17 percent of the state’s schools will be classified into 4A – that’s not new – and the next 34 percent will be 3A and 2A schools.
The board made this decision because it expects a large number of schools that will be classified as 2A schools will opt up to 3A.
“We’re having a heck of a time determining if we’ll have anyone left in 2A,” said Mike Colbrese, WIAA executive director.
Colbrese, of course, was joking. But there’s some truth to those words. I’ve counted more than a dozen schools that are expected to opt up from 1A or 2A to 3A or 4A. And there could be more.
What does this mean? Every “small” schools that opts up, sends a school with a larger enrollment down the classification ladder. That can create a canyon-esque enrollment gap between the smallest and largest schools of a single classification, especially in 2A where the schools at the top of the classification could have twice the enrollment of the smallest schools. Colbrese said he is hopeful that there is “close to 17 percent of schools in each classification,” but no dividing line has been set yet.
The WIAA will wait to do anything until Dec. 15 – that’s when schools must submit their decisions regarding opting up or playing in the classification their enrollment places them in.
Classifying schools is a no-win situation. If you want to place the schools based on percentages – how it’s done now – you run the risk of putting schools at the bottom of each classification at a severe disadvantage.
If you want to divide schools into classifications based on hard enrollment numbers – schools with more than 1,201 students are 4A, for example – you will have an uneven number of schools in each classification. The WIAA used to do this and had about 50 schools in 2A and nearly 80 in 3A and 4A.
If you want to ban schools from opting up, are you ready to see Rainier Beach and Archbishop Murphy dominate Class 1A and watch Bellarmine Prep win just about every team state title in Class 2A?
Anyway, here’s the latest on where schools might end up:
Tacoma School District athletic director Jen Kubista said Foss, Lincoln and Wilson will compete in Class 3A and Mount Tahoma and Stadium will be 4A next fall. Remember, the Narrows League will be a 4A/3A league next fall. Kubista said there has been no decision made yet regarding how the league will be divided (geography, classification or some other way).
If Franklin Pierce is classified at 2A, the Cardinals will stay in 2A and apply to join the Nisqually League, district athletic director Wendy Malich said. Clover Park and White River might also be 2A schools and would join the Nisqually League.
Sumner athletic director Tim Thomsen has confirmed that Sumner and Bonney Lake will opt up to 3A if they are classified as 2A schools.
Decatur will likely be classified as 3A and would join the SPSL 3A. That leaves an opening for Mount Rainier, which is expected to be a 4A school. The Rams have applied to join the SPSL.
According to the Seattle Times, the Seamount League will be 3A/2A next year.
It was reported earlier that all Metro League schools would compete in 3A. Colbrese said he was given inaccurate information when he made that statement on Saturday. League officials met on Thursday to discuss their future. It’s still possible that 11 or the league’s 14 schools will opt up to 3A. When we find out the decision, we’ll report it here.