KS Board of Ed hears proposal to change private schools classifications based on state titles

13 News at Six
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 6:10 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - The Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) did a survey and found private schools win a disproportionate amount of state titles compared to public schools.

The organization began discussing it in 2009, even forming a committee to study the issue, but it was not until April 2022 that they finally established a proposed multiplier rule to address the disparity in championship success among its 354 member schools.

KSHSAA said the first and major contributing factor to a private school’s classification is the number of state titles won in a five-year span.

“We believe that the championships that are won in an imbalanced manner have contributed to this, so we let that be a gatekeeper,” said KSHSAA Executive Director, Bill Faflick.

All private schools will begin with a 1.0 multiplier, but if they win ten or more championships in five years, a 0.30 multiplier will be added to their enrollment number. If they win between 5-9 state titles, 0.15 is added, and anything less than five it stays the same.

After that KSHSAA looks at the geographic location, which is the public school attendance area where the private school is located. If it’s in a 5A or 6A community it’s 0.30, within a 3A or 4A community 0.15, and 1A or 2A there’s no change.

Next is the school’s socio-economic status which looks at their free and reduced lunch population factor.

Those in favor argue private schools are recruiting star athletes, giving them an unfair advantage over public schools.

District 38 Representative Tim Johnson said, “I understand that parochial schools have a right to recruit for members of their faith, but these athletes that we’re losing are not necessarily within that category. Most of these star, Division 1 athletes that are going, religion has nothing to do with it.”

Those opposed pointed to a state bill that will allow open enrollment in public schools starting in 2024.

“Open enrollment will have a major impact on student enrollment,” said one private school administrator that spoke on Wednesday. “This should bring public schools into the discussion of the multiplier. Schools are making plans to recruit students from other school districts. This should be considered if a multiplier is going to be used.”

Opponents also said all private schools should not be punished for the success of a few. “If there are KSHSAA member schools violating rules, and issues of undue influence, recruiting, and blatant cheating, they should be reprimanded, suspended from post-season, and removed from the association all together.”

Faflick said as they looked for the best way to level the playing field, they were reminded of KSHSAA’s purpose as an organization.

“Our goal is for kids to win, but when I say win, I’m talking about being involved in education based activities,” he continued saying, “We remain committed to making sure kids are connected to activities where they’re excited to be part of it, they feel like they have a fair shot to win, and they do so knowing that they’re going to be connected to teammates, to adults, and to communities that will support them in their efforts.”

KSHSAA said the multiplier would only count team championships, not individual wins. If the Kansas Board of Education approves the change, it would then need approval from the legislature because it would change the state statute.

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