As a member of the Georgia High School Association’s Executive Committee, Garrett Black knows first-hand the balancing act facing the organization in determining new classifications for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 school years.
The Greenbrier High School Athletic Director said the committee’s goal during reclassification meetings was to create the best balance between maintaining parity and geography concerns.
Black believes the six-classification plan that the GHSA’s Reclassification Committee approved Monday is most consistent with those goals.
Under the new plan, the GHSA placed all of its schools in one of six classifications based on their student population.
“It was a long process,” said Black, also the head softball coach at Greenbrier. “There were a lot of different opinions on how we should go about reclassification. To be honest with you, there is no perfect plan that is going to just make everybody happy.
“… The six classifications, we felt like, is the best fit right now for parity and geography.”
He stressed that travel considerations were a key point, considering the economy’s effect on school systems across Georgia.
Evans, the most populous of Columbia County’s five public high schools at 1,393, was just 38 students short of the cut-off for the state’s highest classification.
On the other end of the spectrum, Grovetown (1,128) was included in Class AAAAA by a slim margin. It has only 18 more students than Wayne County, the most populous school in Class AAAA.
It means that Evans, Lakeside (1,320), Greenbrier (1,307) and Grovetown will compete in the same region. The region alignments will be released by the GHSA on Dec. 6.
Evans, Lakeside and Greenbrier reside in Class AAAA this school year, while Grovetown is in AAA.
Meanwhile, Harlem has been slotted to compete in Class AA.
Black said that he’s excited to remain in the same region with county rivals Evans and Lakeside and to gain another in Grovetown.
Though Grovetown has consistently played against the other three in most sports, those contests will now actually count toward region standings.
Grovetown Athletic Director Todd Booker said the new set-up will intensify his school’s already-formed rivalries with Evans, Greenbrier and Lakeside.
“I think the best thing is obviously getting to keep the majority of Columbia County schools together,” he said.
This school year, Grovetown and Harlem play in the same region in Class AAA. With the Warriors moving up, Booker hopes they can continue to compete against Harlem.
“Hopefully, we can continue to play Harlem because that’s a big rivalry for us,” he said.
With 571 students, Harlem comes in at the high end of the AA range.
The school has been Class AA-sized, but has competed up a class to ease travel burdens.
Harlem Athletic Director Adam Fulford said he soon plans to sit down with Principal Dietmar Perez to determine if the school will compete in Class AA or petition to move up. Such petitions are due by Dec. 5.
“I’m sure, just like every other coach and athletic director in the county, we’re going to make the best decision for our kids and our school,” Fulford said. “Right now, AA is not looking too bad, depending on what the other schools in Augusta do.
“Travel is always an issue,” he added.
Augusta schools Westside, Josey and Laney also are slotted to play in Class AA.
Black said that after the proposed region alignments are released Dec. 6, schools have two weeks to petition for a lateral move from one region to another.