One day before the GHSA executive committee will discuss the future of public and private schools in Class A, a large number of individuals listened to a pitch from the secessionist Georgia Public Schools Association on Monday morning at a north Macon hotel.
Individuals representing at least 44 schools -- that number of schools signed in on paper, but others claimed more schools attended -- spoke about the potential outcomes of the GHSA’s Tuesday morning meeting at the Macon Coliseum, and gauged interest from the schools in joining the GPSA. More than 80 people were in the room, but many schools had more than one person present. Of the schools represented, 35 were Class A schools, seven were from Class AA, and Jefferson County and Westover were there from Class AAA.
The GPSA began a year ago as a discussion between small, rural public schools that felt the playing field between public and private schools wasn’t level. During the past year, the discussion has advanced to the point where several schools say they plan to leave the GHSA. The schools met Dec. 13 to gauge interest in the new league, which was tentatively named the GPSA on Dec. 21, while the GHSA altered its agenda in late December to include the discussion of public/private issues in Class A.
Turner County superintendent Ray Jordan, who has become sort of a de-facto leader in meetings and during the drafting of bylaws, said at the beginning of Monday’s meeting that he expected the GHSA meeting could have one of three outcomes. The executive committee could take no action; it could split public and private schools in baseball, softball, tennis and golf; it could split public and private schools completely in Class A.
Jordan distributed a handout to those in attendance, asking how each of those scenarios would affect their interest in the GPSA. Jordan declined to share the vote results, although he said the handouts revealed the GPSA would receive considerable interest if the GHSA fails to address the public/private split Tuesday.
On a different handout distributed to those in attendance, the GPSA’s planning team wrote it would obtain legal representation provided enough schools (20 to 25) are interested in forming the GPSA.
“We’re not in the threatening business,” Jordan told the crowd. “We’re trying to solve a problem.”
After distributing the questionnaire, Jordan took questions from the crowd and eventually asked Lincoln County football coach Larry Campbell -- one of two GHSA executive committee members in attendance along with Seminole County’s Alan Ingram -- to clarify what toexpect at Tuesday’s meeting. Campbell, who has already said Lincoln County wouldn’t join the GPSA, said he wouldn’t address the room unless the reporters covering the meeting left. He said he believed what he said could influence the way the GHSA votes Tuesday. The GPSA leadership asked the three media members in attendance to leave the room. Campbell later asked everyone in attendance Monday to go to the GHSA meeting Tuesday because the meeting was open to the public.
Jordan said the GPSA planning committee, of which Ingram is a member, would meet with Campbell later Monday to discuss strategy for Tuesday’s meeting. Jordan said he believed either Ingram or Campbell would present the GPSA’s concerns to the executive committee on Tuesday.
No one the Telegraph contacted Monday seemed completely sure what would happen Tuesday.
The executive committee is expected to ratify region reclassification, and then it is expected to discuss the public/private issue, per its agenda.
GHSA executive director Ralph Swearngin said a tabled discussion from October about splitting Class A schools into rural and urban divisions in four sports would likely be the starting point of the conversation. Swearngin said he had no idea where the discussion will go from there.
The Telegraph reported in late December that the reclassification subcommittee would ask the executive committee to split the public and private schools in Class A for the playoffs. Nine of its members took a straw poll vote and decided to recommend a separation between public and private schools in the playoffs, according to sources. Any member of the executive committee, however, can make a motion to discuss or vote on a plan, so a different caucus of members could present an alternative plan during discussion.
“I really can’t say will happen,” said Rodney Walker, executive committee member and Mary Persons’ athletics director. “I’m sure we’ll talk about a lot of things.”