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franklin county times

Reclassification looms for AHSAA this fall

By Staff
Kim West, Franklin County Times
The U.S. Census Bureau counts populuation in 10-year cycles, but the Alabama High School Athletic Association reclassifies members schools every two years.
The AHSAA, which enforces athletic policies for member schools, will conduct its biannual reclassification this fall after it receives daily enrollment figures from the Alabama Department of Education.
According to AHSAA officials, those figures are based on the first 20 days of school. After the information is evaluated and sorted by the AHSAA's Central Board of Controls, schools will typically receive their classification status by the end of November.
There has been debate in recent years about adding more divisions due to the discrepancy in numbers within each classification.
For example, the largest 6A school, Bob Jones, has 1,751 students compared to the smallest 6A school, Buckhorn, which has just 700. But in the smaller classifications, the different is much smaller – Geneva has the largest 3A enrollment (285), compared to 3A's smallest school, Weaver, which has 213.
"The Central Board of Controls will look at a variety of options for reclassification," said Dan Washburn, executive director of the AHSAA. "They will look at the six classifications, and they will also look at having eight classifications or even a super classification. There are so many variables to consider."
Washburn, who is retiring July 31 after 16 years as director, doesn't forsee any major changes for the 2008-10 reclassification period.
"I can't see the association changing a great deal. In my opinion, they will remain in six classifications," Washburn said. "We've gone through eight or 10 classification periods, and these are very tedious and very important times. The board has to represent what's the best for the state, even if it may not be as great for one area. This is a very important task and endeavor."
Franklin County has six high schools that belong to the AHSAA, including Russellville, Red Bay, Phil Campbell, Vina, Belgreen and Tharptown.
The last major change to school classifications was in 1984-85, when the AHSAA increased from four to the current six classifications.
Based on the AHSAA's reclassification data collected in 2006, Russellville is listed at No. 52 among 65 5A schools and has 456 students.
Phil Campbell (No. 4, 209) and Red Bay (No. 11, 204) are two of the larger schools in 2A, which ranges in size from No. 67 Winterboro's 148 students to the biggest 2A school, Westminster Christian at 211.95.
Belgreen is the third-largest 1A school with 145 students, while Vina is one of the smallest (No. 74, 61). Tharptown didn't join the AHSAA until it became a high school in 2006.