By Brent Maycock – KSHSAA Covered
The fate of determining how Kansas high schools are classified now lies in the hands of the Kansas State Legislature.
On Wednesday, the Kansas State Board of Education voted 6-4 in favor of a multiplier proposal that previously had been passed by the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s Board of Directors. The proposal would allow the KSHSAA to base classifications on more than just school enrollment, which is how the process is currently mandated by K.S.A. 2014 Supp. 72-7114.
That statute currently reads:
High school activities association; board of directors, executive board, appeal board; articles and bylaws; reports; classification system; executive director and personnel; application of open meetings law and open records law.
(a) Any association with a majority of the high schools of the state as members and the purpose of which association is the statewide regulation, supervision, promotion and development of any of the activities defined in K.S.A. 72-7117, and amendments thereto, and in which any public high school of this state may participate directly or indirectly shall:
(1) On or before September 1 of each year make a full report of its operation for the preceding calendar year to the state board of education. The report shall contain a complete and detailed financial statement under the certificate of a certified public accountant.
(2) File with the state board a copy of all reports and publications issued from time to time by such association.
(3) Be governed by a board of directors which shall exercise the legislative authority of the association and shall establish policy for the association.
(4) Submit to the state board of education, for its approval or disapproval prior to adoption, any amendments, additions, alterations or modifications of its articles of incorporation or bylaws. If any articles of incorporation, bylaws or any amendment, addition or alteration thereto is disapproved by the state board of education, the same shall not be adopted.
(5) Establish a system for the classification of member high schools according to student attendance.
(6) Be subject to the provisions of the Kansas open meetings law.
(7) Be subject to the provisions of the open records law.
Under the KSHSAA proposal voted upon by the Board of Education on Wednesday, Section 5 of the statute would be amended to read as follows:
(5) Establish a system for the classification of member high schools according to student attendance and other means.
The proposal approved by the KSHSAA Board of Directors in April would use a multiplier formula to the KSHSAA’s private school members with the potential for three multipliers to be implemented to adjust enrollment figures for classification.
The multipliers are:
Classification of Senior High Schools
Section 2: Senior High Regulations
Art. 5:Private schools will be subject to an enrollment multiplier factor when determining classification numbers. Factors for determining the multiplier include school location, socio-economic status, and championship factor. To calculate the multiplier number, the following criteria will be applied:
Any private school that has won five or more state team championships in the most recent five school years will have a multiplier applied to their classification enrollment count. These select private schools will begin with a 1.0 multiplier. The following factors will be added to the multiplier for each select private school.
Championship Factor – cumulative state championships over the previous 5-year period (not activity specific, team activities only).
10+ championships: + 0.30
5-9 championships: + 0.15
NOTE: If a private school has won less than 5 championships in the previous five-year period, the multiplier remains 1.0.
Geographic Population Factor – public school attendance area in which the private school is located.
Within a 5A/6A community: + 0.30
Within a 3A/4A community: + 0.15
Within a 1A/2A community: + 0
NOTE: If a private school does not meet the Championship Factor, the Geographic Population Factor would not take effect.
Socio-Economic Population Factor
0-20% Free/Reduced students reported: + 0.15
>20% Free/Reduced students reported: + 0
NOTE: If a private school does not meet the Championship Factor, the Socio-Economic Population Factor would not take effect.
NOTE: The multiplier impacts classification for all school activities and will be applied to both general and football classification numbers. Schools cannot move up more than one classification based upon the multiplier. The multiplier enrollment count will not force a school to move from 8-person to 11-person football or from 6-person to 8-person football. Geographic location is determined by the physical address of the private school. If Free/Reduced data is not collected and/or reported, it is assumed to be zero. There is no process for appeal to change a classification that has already been changed by the multiplier.
KSHSAA Executive Director Bill Faflick made a presentation to the Kansas State Board of Education in mid-August, explaining the details of the multiplier proposal. At that meeting, testimony also was given both in favor and against the proposal by members of the public including Paola principal Jeff Hines and McPherson girls’ basketball coach Chris Strathman (both in favor) and Sacred Heart superintendent Geoff Andrews and Kapaun Mt. Carmel athletic director Martin Straub (both against).
Written testimony was also provided to the board, all of whom noted during Wednesday’s meeting that they had received numerous correspondences on the matter from their constituents.
There was still plenty of discussion on the matter Wednesday before the vote was taken with most of the board members torn on the issue.
Michelle Dombrosky (District 3) opened the discussion calling the proposal a “blanket approach” and that the issue at hand revolved around two or three schools in a metro area. She questioned whether an all-encompassing proposal would negatively punish other private schools that experience success in a singular sport.
“Say my school wins five straight cross country championships,” Dombrosky asked. “Something has to happen there. I can’t continue to win those (in that classification). But the whole school gets bumped up? I guess I’m not sure about that.”
Others questioned if the current proposal was the best solution to the perceived problem of private schools winning a disproportionate number of KSHSAA titles.
“This was a solution that was presented to us and they do have the option of going back and coming up with something that’s more palatable,” Betty Arnold (District 8) said. “It’s not just the perspective that maybe they brought us the best of what they can do. I also understand that ours is not to second-guess. If we agree with them, then we vote for it. If we don’t and we feel there’s something better they can come up with, then voting against it gives them the opportunity to go back to the drawing board. I don’t necessarily feel that just because this is the solution that was presented by them that it was the best solution for all. We have to take into consideration the entire state and not just a select few.”
Ann E. Mah (District 4) noted that the proposal put forth by KSHSAA was one that’s been researched and formulated over the span of several years.
“I’m really torn about it as well, but I don’t think it’s our job to second-guess KSHSAA,” she said. “We’re not really in charge of KSHSAA and this is kind of an anomaly that we even get involved in looking at their regulation proposals. … In this case, I’m not going to second-guess them. They’ve known about all these things we’re talking about for years and the majority of members – and (KSHSAA) is a member-run organization – voted for this.”
Melanie Haas (District 2) agreed.
“It’s taken a decade for this to get to us so I think it’s important that we take the steps right now,” she said.
“This issue came up when I served with KSHSAA many years ago and no one knew what to do with it frankly,” Janet Waugh (District 1) said. “I compliment KSHSAA for getting it done and at least they gave us something. When they first presented it, I was disappointed because I didn’t think they went far enough. I represent low socio-economic schools and there’s a difference between them and other districts. … My first thought was, ‘No. I want them to go back and get it straight.’ But then I thought, this is the beginning and at least we are doing something. I know it’s a challenge.”
Ben Jones (District 7) admitted that “I was a hard ‘No’ last month.” But after hearing Faflick’s presentation in August, he was swayed to reconsider his position.
“My first comment was, ‘Don’t hurt my schools,’” he said. “I have rural private schools and they aren’t the issue. When I looked at this, I was comforted to see they could only go up one classification so there’s a limit to it. …. A lot of those schools in their leagues compete against schools a class above them. … That’s a choice they make and now we’re talking about state competition and there’s a different context to it. But they’re used to that level of competition all season long so it’s not new. In terms of the equity piece, it stood out to me.
“It has to be state-wide approach to equity and fairness. I’m not trying to punish schools for doing well, but there has to be fairness and equity.”
Jim McNiece (District 10) has consistently been against a multiplier rule and held firm in that conviction.
“I’ve been on both sides of the aisle,” he said. “I think we can come up with a better solution. I don’t know what it is right now, but going forward this harms other schools. It doesn’t solve the problem. That’s my opinion and I’ve heard from others who don’t share my opinion and I respect their opinions and experiences. There’s a lot of emotion on these experiences we have whether you are on the private side or public side.”
In chiming in his opinion near the end of the discussion Jim Porter (District 9) said he didn’t necessarily fully agree with the proposal put forth by KSHSAA. At the same time, he didn’t agree that the KSBOE should stand in the way of enabling change.
“I don’t like binary choices, yes or no,” Porter said. “I have the same concerns with this that everybody else has expressed. I also believe KSHSAA has a process and I don’t feel like we should interfere with it.”
Haas agreed that the only way for change to occur was for the board to pass the proposal.
“The legislature will still have to change the law so that KSHSAA has the opportunity to take into account not just attendance, but attendance and other means,” she said. “By passing this, what we’re doing is allowing change to take place. KSHSAA can still come back and say, ‘You know what, we’re going to make some other changes.’ But without those three words in the law (And other means), we can’t change anything. It’s not that we’re voting on exactly what KSHSAA is doing, but we are allowing them flexibility by passing this.”
The vote was then put to the board. Six members – Waugh, Haas, Mah, Jean Clifford (District 5), Jones and Porter — voted in favor. Four members – Dombrosky, Deena Horst (District 6), Arnold and McNiece voted no.
The proposal now will go to the legislature to be voted on. If the legislature approves the change to its statute, a multiplier will be implemented on the state’s private schools.
“The High School Activities Association appreciates the hard work of the State Board of Education in looking at this proposal from a variety of perspectives,” Faflick said. “We’re pleased to have approval to take the next steps in providing a remedy to an issue that has been significant in Kansas schools for a number of years.”
When applied to the 2021-22 enrollment cycle, only eight of the state’s 28 private schools would be affected and move up a classification. St. James Academy, St. Thomas Aquinas, Bishop Carroll and Kapaun Mt. Carmel would move from 5A to 6A – which hasn’t had a private school at that level since Aquinas in 2003-04.
Other schools affected were Bishop Miege (4A to 5A), Wichita Collegiate (3A to 4A), Kansas City Christian (2A to 3A) and Wichita Independent (2A to 3A).
In the last football cycle, the only schools moving would be Carroll and Kapaun to 6A, St. James and Miege to 5A, Hayden to 4A and Sacred Heart to 2A.
Over the past five years, those 10 schools have combined to win 124 team state championships across KSHSAA’s 28 athletics and activities in which team championships are awarded. Miege has the most with 27 while Aquinas has 25 and Collegiate has 20.
A total of 471 team championships were awarded in Class 5A on down (no private schools in 6A) in those athletics/activities with private schools winning 23.6% of the titles. Private schools comprise just 7.9% of the KSHSAA membership.