Subcommittee will explore options outside of enrollment for classification structure

(Ryan Casey/

(Ryan Casey/

AURORA — The structure that determines CHSAA classification is getting an in-depth look.

During an initial meeting of the reclassification subcommittee on Tuesday at the CHSAA office, a decision was reached to explore new ways of classifying schools.

Since classifications were first implemented in 1933, the main determining factor for splitting schools has been enrollment. But the subcommittee, a 13-member offshoot of the Classification and League Organizing Committee which is tasked with looked at the current alignment system, reached a consensus that enrollment alone isn't enough to determine classifications.

"I'm hearing from everybody (on the subcommittee) is that the straight enrollment number may not work," said subcommittee chair Mike Schmidt, the principal and football coach at Platte Canyon. "Can we build a better system that has fewer anomalies, and is fairer?"

Said subcommittee member Larry Bull, the district athletic director at Cherry Creek Schools: "I don't believe it's a true reflection — that number — of schools."

So the group will explore models used by other states which classify based upon criteria that either builds upon the enrollment numbers, or use another system entirely. Other systems, such as one where schools apply for a classification, could also be explored.

"This is just the first step," said Schmidt, adding that the classification system may not even have to change after looking at other options. "I just want to see, 'What would it look like?'"

Additionally, a survey of member schools will be conducted to explore factors that should be considered when classifying schools.

A big topic of conversation within the subcommittee on Tuesday was whether or not any change should apply to all classes, big and small, and all regions, metro and rural.

"We're at the point where one size doesn't fit all anymore," said Randy Holmen, the superintendent at Geno-Hugo School District.

Ultimately, the group has a big eye on competitive balance, and ensuring that high school athletics continue to grow.

"I see the charge of this group as saving programs for kids," said Doherty athletic director Chris Noll.

A little while later, CHSAA commissioner Paul Angelico added, "What we're trying to do is to encourage as many kids as possible to participate in high school athletics. ... What can we do to help schools provide programs that will entice as many kids as possible to be involved?"

But, the tone of the meeting was ultimately careful, measured and tempered. It was clear that the subcommittee wants to take its time exploring what next step would be best, rather than jump into a change just to change. Any potential change wouldn't take effect until the 2020-21 school year.

"One thing we need to keep in mind as we're looking at restructuring is we don't water down what it means to be a state champion," said Rick Macias, the district athletic director at Pueblo City Schools.

"We have to be careful, because we're not going to fix it all. It's impossible to fix it all," added Jim Thyfault, the district athletic director of Jeffco Public Schools. "Schools differ gender to gender, and sport to sport. So how are you going to fix that? You're not going to fix it entirely."

The subcommittee will next meet in February, and then again in June.