TOPEKA, Kan. — Kansas high school sports and activities could soon be operating under a new set of guidelines 

Wednesday, the Kansas Board of Education voted 6-4 to approve a proposal to allow the Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) to change how high school sports and activities are classified at the competitive level. 

The proposal would add a multiplier factor for private schools, which would inflate enrollment numbers for classification purposes. Under the proposal, multipliers would be added based on the number of championships won over a set period of time, the location of the private school and the student poverty rate within that district.  

If a school wins 10 or more championships over a five-year period, a multiplier of 0.3 would be added. If a school wins five to nine championships over a five-year period, a 0.15 multiplier would be added. If a school doesn’t win a championship in a five-year period, no multiplier would be added. 

Under the proposal, where a school is located will play a role in the reclassification process. 

If a private school is in a 5A or 6A community, then an additional multiplier of 0.3 is used. Schools located in a 3A or 4A community will have an additional 0.15 multiplier. Private schools located in 1A and 2A communities will not have an additional multiplier added based on location. 

Poverty levels will also be factored in with a 0.15 multiplier added for schools with up to 20% of students receiving free or reduced price lunch.

Schools with more than 20% of students receiving free or reduced price lunch would not have an additional multiplier. If a school does not collect this type of data, an automatic 0.15 multiplier would be added. 

Multipliers would affect classification for all student activities, not just athletics. Schools cannot move up more than one classification a year based on the multiplier and the multiplier can’t force a school to expand from a 8-person to an 11-person football team. 

Board members Janet Waugh, Melanie Haas, Ann Mah, Jean Clifford, Ben Jones, and Jim Porter voted in favor of the proposal. Board members Michelle Dombrosky, Deena Horst, Betty Arnold, Jim McNiece voted against the proposal. 

Dombrosky said she felt the proposal creates a blanket policy, instead of focusing on concerns from a small group of schools.  

“The multiplier is going to affect smaller schools that are being penalized for their success. [It’s] something the whole school is going to be bumped up [for], rather than just for that activity,” Dombrosky said. 

“It doesn’t change who you play all year. It only changes if you go to state. It’s not like you’re going to play a whole different set of schools all year long, it’s only if you go to state,” Mah said. 

Jones said he originally was against the proposal, but changed his mind after reviewing data on the number of private schools earning championship titles. 

“I’m not trying to punish schools for doing well. It’s about fairness and equity in all of our activities,” board member Ben Jones said. 

Arnold said she would like to see KSHSAA reconsider the policy and return to the board with a more balanced approach for classifying schools. 

“I don’t necessarily feel that just because this is a solution that was presented by them (KSHSAA) that it’s the best solution for all,” Arnold said. “We have to take into consideration the entire state and not just a small few.”

The multiplier proposal will now progress to the state legislature for further consideration. The legislature would have to approve the multiplier before the policy can be implemented by KSHSAA.