State BOE votes for ‘classification multiplier’ for private schools

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By Travis Mounts, TSnews

A proposal to make private high schools in Kansas compete in higher classifications took another step forward last week.
On a 6-4 vote on Wednesday, the Kansas State Board of Education approved the Kansas State High School Activities Association’s classification proposal. The measure will now go to the Kansas Legislature.
If approved, the proposal would create a multiplying factor for private schools that could move them up a classification. Right now, all Kansas high schools compete based on student enrollment. Classifications for all sports and activities except football are figured annually, based on student populations in grades 9-12. Football classifications are set every other year for a two-year window starting the next school year, and look at student populations in grades 9-11.
The KSHSAA board of directors voted 43-21 in favor of the proposal last April. The proposal, if adopted, could be implemented as early as the 2023-24 school year.
The idea of the proposal is to counter what many public schools and patrons view as an unfair advantage held by some private schools. The proposal would take into account a school’s state championships over a five-year period, its geographic location, and its socio-economic status.
The schools mostly likely impacted would be ones that are regularly winning state titles, are in metropolitan areas, and have a small number of students from lower-income households. The income factor would be based on the percentage of free or reduced school lunches provided.
Schools could only be moved up one classification level.
The schools mostly likely to be impacted would be Wichita schools Bishop Carroll, Kapaun-Mt. Carmel, Wichita Collegiate and The Independent School, as well as Kansas City-area schools St. Thomas Aquinas, Bishop Miege, St. James Academy and Kansas City Christian. Private schools like Trinity Catholic in Hutchinson and St. Mary’s-Colgan in Pittsburg are not expected to be immediately impacted.
Some local schools regularly face Wichita-based private schools. The Clearwater Indians face the Collegiate Spartans regularly as members of the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League’s Division IV. In years past, Collegiate has faced Cheney and Conway Springs in football. Conway Springs and Collegiate often have battled in tennis, including the State championship. Over the last handful of years, Collegiate has competed at both the 4A and 3A levels.
The Independent Panthers are members of the Central Plains League with Cheney, Conway Springs and Garden Plain. This season, the Panthers have moved to 8-man football.