December 5, 2020

GHSA reclassification brings big changes to Braves’ future sports schedules

(Thomaston, GA) — The Georgia High School Association reclassified all of its members schools for the next cycle on Wednesday, placing them in the classifications they will be in starting with the 2016-2017 school year.

After several appeals were heard and the new classes were revealed Wednesday afternoon, the Braves remained in Class AA.

GHSA-logoA new “three percent” rule adopted by the GHSA prior to the reclassification process was designed to address perceived advantages by private schools and city schools that offer open enrollment.

The rule states that any school that has three percent of more of its student population coming from outside its county would be bumped up one additional classification from where they were placed.

After the FTE (enrollment) numbers were released earlier this month Brave fans were on pins and needles as the numbers showed that Heard County would be forced to play up to Class AAA because 26 of the total of 635 high school students lived outside the county lines yielding a 4.1 percent out of district enrollment.

Despite the intention of addressing private and open enrollment city schools, several public high schools in addition to Heard County were affected and most were on hand to appeal at the meeting.

Athletic director Shane Lasseter traveled to Thomaston Wednesday morning on behalf of HHS to present an appeal to the GHSA committee which was approved, preventing the Braves from being forced into the higher classification where they would face much larger schools as well as many private schools.

Most of the public school won their appeals with the exception of Bremen, a current Region 5-AA rival of the Braves who will be forced to move up to AAA.

According to Lasseter the decision to appeal was an easy one for Heard County. “Really anytime you are up for reclassification there are so many things that can change. You can change classes, regions or the entire structure of the individual formats,” Lasseter stated after the meeting.

“So anytime we are dealing with that we are nervous, but what we did know and believe was that we would be better off landing somewhere in Class AA rather than AAA so that is why the appeal was so important for us.”

One of the primary arguments Lasseter addressed the committee with was the fact that of the 26 out of county students, 11 were sons or daughters of school system employees.

Due to state law, these students are allowed to attend Heard County schools without paying an open enrollment fee and are in all respects treated as regular students. Of those 11 students, only three are actual competitive athletes.

Even though Heard County will be staying put in AA, big changes will still take place after the class shake-up as the Braves’ three biggest Region 5-AA rivals will be on the move next season. In addition to Bremen moving up to class AAA, Bowdon and Manchester will both move down to Class A.

The Braves will not be without one huge rival at least though as Callaway High School will move back down to AA after spending the last four seasons in AAA. It is still unclear which other teams will be matched up in the Braves’ new region.

The GHSA is expected to make those decisions final early next month once teams petition to move up in classification which sometimes happens for a myriad of reasons including travel costs.


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