Warner Robins, Northside drop to Class AAAA

WARNER ROBINS — The opening of Veterans High School will push the three Warner Robins public schools down a classification when the 2010-11 high school athletic season begins.

Houston County, Northside and Warner Robins high schools will drop to Class AAAA for the next Georgia High School Association reclassification cycle, according to numbers released by the GHSA on Thursday.

“It’s not a surprise,” Northside athletics director Conrad Nix said. “Obviously with the opening of the new school, we knew our student population would be down from where it was before.”

The GHSA groups its member schools by student population into five classifications.

The GHSA traditionally reclassifies every two years to account for changes in enrollment and to accommodate new school openings. The GHSA is moving to a four-year cycle beginning with the 2010-11 school year.

Northside has the largest projected full-time equivalency count of any Middle Georgia school at 1,820, making it the ninth largest AAAA school. Houston County High follows with a projected FTE count of 1,800, while Warner Robins High is at 1,774.

Schools with a FTE count larger than 1,900 were placed into AAAAA, while schools smaller than 525 were grouped into the smallest classification. The remaining schools were divided evenly in the middle three classes.

“I think it’s a good thing that all three schools will be together,” WRHS athletics director Bryan Way said. “That’s how it should be. We all have good schools, and we have a good school system. It’s advantageous to be grouped together.”

The move could help ease travel costs. The Houston County schools had to make trips to Valdosta, Douglas and Moultrie for region play. The closest trip was to Tifton.

“It wasn’t too bad for football, but basketball, soccer and baseball had to make multiple trips,” Way said. “It’s tough.”

But Way fears the Houston County schools will be moved to a region with schools from Bainbridge, Hamilton, Leesburg and Thomasville.

“We’d still be traveling a lot,” Way said. “Moving down helps because it’s hard competing with schools with 700 more students than you have. But it looks like we’ll still have a burden with travel.”

Veterans will open as a AAA school, joining Peach County High and Perry High in the GHSA’s middle classification.

There will be plenty of movement among the Bibb County schools, as well.

Westside High will move down a class to AAA, while Central High and Howard High will move up one class to join it.

Rutland High is already in AAA, giving Bibb County four schools in the same class.

“I think it gives us a chance to renew some of those county rivalries,” Bibb County athletics director Raynette Evans said. “It will also help ease travel costs.”

Northeast and Southwest high schools will stay in AA.

First Presbyterian Day School, which is leaving the Georgia Independent Schools Association for the first time to join the GHSA, will be placed in A.

“It’s just what we expected,” FPD athletics director Greg Moore said. “We look forward to the process moving forward of seeing what region we will be placed in.”

Schools have the chance to “play up” to a higher classification if they choose to file a request. Schools can also appeal the reclassification numbers. They have until noon Nov. 25 to make those decisions.

The GHSA Reclassification Committee will meet Dec. 2 to place schools into regions.