By Mark Schremmer
Globe Sports Writer
Citing a large disparity in enrollment, the member schools in Kansas Class 4A have voted to split the classification into two divisions.
The measure passed by a vote of 42-22 to cut the 64-school class into 32-school divisions for football, volleyball, basketball, baseball and softball. The change won’t take effect until 2014 for football, while the change will be immediate for all the other sports.
A state champion will be crowned for each division.
“Here at Baxter Springs, we think it’s great,” Baxter Springs High School athletics director Roger Reynolds said.
“We think it will make it more fair to have two divisions. It gives our kids a fair chance and more opportunities to compete at the state level.”
The smaller 4A schools in the area, including Baxter Springs, Columbus, Girard and Frontenac, were highly supportive of the proposal, which makes the enrollment disparity similar to the state’s other classes.
Before the split, 4A’s largest school (Highland Park) had 729 students, while the two smallest schools (Frontenac, Rock Creek) each had enrollment figures of 258 for a ratio of 2.83.
All of the other classifications had ratios ranging from 1.56 to 1.82. Using last year’s enrollment numbers, 4A Division I would have a ratio of 1.62 (729-451), while Division II would have a ratio of 1.68 (434-258).
Those opposed to the classification split pointed to increased travel costs for the schools, increased costs to the KSHSAA for creating additional state championship venues, the need for additional qualified referees and umpires, and the potential for “watering down” the competition in Kansas. The change means Kansas will have eight classifications, which is more than most states of similar size.
There have been past proposals that targeted the 4A disparity issue without adding a classification.
However, those plans have failed to gain support and were more difficult to pass because they affected more schools, thus making them eligible to vote. This proposal allowed the 4A school alone to make the decision.