WIAA passes pair of classification amendments

The amendments set hard-line classification numbers and use reduced lunch rates to decrease enrollments.

The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Representative Assembly approved a pair of amendments Monday that will change the way schools are classified in the state.

The vote took place at the Winter Coalition Meeting in Renton.

The first amendment establishes hard-line numbers for the state’s six classifications — 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A, 2B and 1B.

The second amendment is designed to provide competitive balance for low-income schools in 4A, 3A, 2A and 1A by using reduced-lunch rates to decrease enrollment totals. Schools can receive an enrollment drop equal to the percentage they are above the state’s reduced-lunch-rate average, up to 40 percent — though a school that receives an enrollment deduction can’t drop more than one classification. The current reduced-lunch average is 42.4 percent according to the Office of the Superintendent of Publication Instruction.

The amendments, which go into effect starting with the 2020-2024 classification cycle, needed a 60-percent approval from the 53-person assembly to pass.

The new classifications numbers are Class 4A, 1,300 or more students; 3A, 900-1,299; 2A, 450-899; 1A, 225-449; 2B, 105-224; and 1B 1-104.

Enrollment numbers are based on grades 9-11.

Under the old system, the 384 WIAA member schools were divided evenly among the six classifications. The approval of the hard-line numbers gives schools a better idea of what classification they’ll land in heading into a new cycle.

“That’s a comfort for many athletics directors,” Everett School District athletics director Robert Polk said.

The new numbers mean the classifications likely will be unbalanced, which has been addressed by a new formula to determine the number of teams in each classification’s state tournaments. The numbers are: 85-plus schools, 24-team tournaments; 69-84 schools, 20 teams; 53-68 schools, 16 teams; 37-52 schools, 12 teams; and 20-36 schools, eight teams. If a classification falls below 20 schools, it would combine with the class one level below or one level above, whichever has the fewest schools.

It’s too early to tell the direct impact the amendments will have on local schools, but those currently near the cutoff point between classifications — including 3A Marysville Getchell, 2A Mountlake Terrace, 1A Coupeville and 2B Darrington — are the most likely to be affected.

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