Miranda Davis
KU Statehouse Wire Service
The Senate Education Committee on March 3 debated a bill that would change the high school size classification system for sporting events.
Senate Bill 464 would strike the portion of current law that requires the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) to classify schools based on student attendance.
Jeff Hines, athletic director at Paola High School and proponent of the bill, said the change would allow KSHSAA to create a more flexible system. Hines said that the current system is too rigid and doesn’t allow for a competitive athletic postseason for many schools. The bill does not offer a replacement to the current system.
“A large school with a high percentage of low socioeconomic status students cannot move down a division to face more appropriate competition,” Hines said. “Likewise, a school that excels cannot be forced to move up into a higher division, nor can they appeal to move up a classification.”
The bill was introduced Wednesday and referred to the Education Committee.
KSHSAA, the nonprofit organization that administers interscholastic programs for school members, including sporting and nonsporting activities, such as debate, remained neutral toward the legislation. The association has organized its own committee to study the classification system in use.
Sen. Vicki Schmidt, R-Topeka, expressed concerns about the lack of KSHSAA support for the bill.
“KSHSAA has certainly come before this body, and certainly this committee, multiple times and asked for tweaks and changes,” Schmidt said. “Certainly they’re not foreign to this process. So why didn’t they go the next step and say: ‘This is an impediment, we would like to consider some other things and here’s maybe a few things we should ask for?’”
Hines said he believed that it would be redundant for KSHSAA to endorse a plan at this stage because if approved by the legislature, member schools would still have to vote. Hines said SB 464 would allow KSHSAA to come up with a system and let member schools approve it, instead of the legislature.
“Simply put, I’m asking for less oversight from the legislature,” Hines said.
Sen. Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg, asked Hines if he would be willing to relinquish state funding if the legislature agreed to relinquish oversight of how the KSHSAA classifies school.
“If we relinquished the funding behind it, (high school activities) would disappear,” Hines said.