Among several rule changes proposed by Kansas State High School Activities Association is a proposal that could move Hillsboro High School into the 2A classification from 3A if enrollment decreases even slightly, Superintendent Steve Noble told USD 410 Board of Education on Monday.
KSHSAA’s executive board is proposing moving the 16 smallest schools in 4A to 3A, and moving the 16 smallest schools in both 3A and 2A down a classification. The proposal seems like it is intended to alleviate a big gap in size between the largest and smallest 4A schools, Noble said, but KSHSAA hasn’t actually said why it proposed the rule change.
There are currently 64 schools in 4A, with enrollments ranging from 258 to 717, a 178-percent difference. Based on current enrollment, the proposal would result in the smallest 4A school having an enrollment of 311 students, still a 131-percent difference.
The proposal would increase the gap in size between the largest and smallest 3A schools, currently 57 percent, to 72 percent. It would also result in HHS being one of the smallest 3A schools. In fact, HHS would have the same number of students as the largest 2A schools, which under the proposal would have included Marion High School this year.
Because of fluctuating enrollment, being right on the borderline could result in frequent switches between 3A and 2A.
Noble said he didn’t think the proposal would accomplish its apparent goal, because 4A would still have a vast disparity in size between the biggest and smallest schools. That goal would be accomplished much better by dividing 4A into two classifications of 32 schools each, like 5A and 6A.
If KSHSAA worries about watering down championship tournaments by adding another classification, moving the 16 largest 4A schools to 5A would have a greater effect of reducing the size disparity than moving the 16 smallest to 3A.
Other proposals, ones that Noble said he agrees with, include moving state baseball and softball tournaments to a Thursday and Friday instead of Friday and Saturday, requiring golf tournaments to start later in the day to reduce class time missed, and making the state volleyball tournament a single day instead of two.
He said he wouldn’t support the move of state baseball and softball if the tournaments were during the school year.
Noble will attend a KSHSAA regional meeting Oct. 20 in Salina to discuss the proposals.
Board sets three-year goals
The board approved a new set of goals for the upcoming three years, which included several changes from the previous set of goals.
The biggest change is removing the category of increasing enrollment and replacing it with putting people first. Board member Rod Koons said the district has little control over increasing enrollment.
Board President Eddie Weber said that during tough budgetary times, it is too easy to forget about people when making budget cuts.
Board member Joe Sechrist said teaching is an art form, and USD 410 has very good teachers whose loss would hurt the district’s mission.
The other four categories of goals remained the same: meet the educational needs of all students, increase community involvement, find alternate revenue streams, and keep current with technology.
In the category of meeting all students’ educational needs, the board added a specific goal of improving English as a second language programs. Preschool enrollment and births show the district is likely to see an increase in students whose home language is Spanish.
In other business:
- Noble reviewed changes he expects will be made to school accreditation standards. It is likely individual schools will no longer be accredited; instead, entire districts will be evaluated. He said he expects any new system will focus less on standardized test scores and give more weight to qualitative factors.
- There will be a regional education summit Thursday in Concordia with a team of advisers helping Gov. Sam Brownback on a proposal for a new school funding formula. Noble and Hillsboro Middle School Principal Greg Brown will attend the summit.
- Sale of surplus school equipment at auction was approved. An auction will likely be held in early December.
- The board met in closed session for 15 minutes to discuss personnel. After returning to open session, the board approved assistant high school boys’ basketball coaching contracts for Spencer Brown and Tyler Peachey and an assistant middle school boys’ basketball coaching contract for Aaron Magee. None of the positions are new.
- New Marion County Learning Center Director Autumn Hardy updated the board on what is happening at the center. Enrollment in the English as a second language program is up, especially among Hillsboro residents, she said.
- Transportation Director Keith Goossen told the board about recent difficulties with an activity bus. It is running fine now, but it has engine damage. Because it isn’t scheduled for replacement for several years, he plans to use it until at least the end of the school year or until it starts using too much oil, about 1 quart per 1,000 miles. It currently doesn’t require any added oil between oil changes.
- The board approved selling 100 hurdles, which will be replaced with 120 hurdles at a cost of $18,000, split between the school district and Tabor College. The replacement had been scheduled since the college and school district built the athletic facility together, and had been budgeted about $25,000. They aren’t scheduled to be replaced again for another 15 years.
- Board member Deb Geis, who represents the district on the Marion County Special Education Cooperative board, announced that Prairie View will rent a couple of rooms in the cooperative’s facility.
- The Sextro Scholarship Fund will be transferred to the Hillsboro Community Foundation.
The next board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 14.