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Home » General News

IS RONAN COMING BACK TO 'A'?

April 12, 2014
By Terry Werner of Northwest Montana A Conference



 

Sifting throughMontanahigh school enrollments and reclassification

The recent news that Southwestern A school Anaconda is , like its enrollment, dropping to Class Bfor athletics has generated a bit of discussion ’round these parts.

 

What are the enrollment restrictions for classifications inMontana? Who’s close to those limits and who could be on the move next?

Several other schools are on the verge, though not all have decided to pack their bags and move yet. Let’s take a look at the tape:


First, we’ll get a few details out of the way. We’ll start with classification enrollment boundaries, some good numbers to know.

Class AA  =  825 +

Class A  =  825 – 340

Class B  =  339 – 120

Class C  =  119  -  1

Next, some rules from the MHSA for reclassification:

1.      Any school that exceeds the maximum enrollment level by no more than 10 percent may remain at the lower classification.
2.      Schools may opt up to a higher classification despite enrollment.
3.      When a school moves into a classification, they will remain there for the next two years.
4.      Schools whose enrollment changes significantly in a 2-year peiord (i.e. 25 percent), will be placed into proper class by the MHSA Executive Board.
5.      MHSA recommendations for change are made based on a school’s average enrollment over the past two years.

OK, got it? Here’s howMontana’s four classifications break down using MHSA enrollment data from the most recent term available (Fall 2013-14). Now remember, any MHSA recommendations may also include the spring term, data that has not been released to us yet.

 

We can see that all 13 AA schools are well above the enrollment cutoff. Class AA is one of the stranger classifications because there is no upper limit for school size. So you can see that our threeMissoulaschools are seriously dwarfed by the giants from the other side of the state.

But what can you do? Class AA certainly can’t be split any further. Moving on.

Now Class A gives us some pretty clear potential for moving and shaking. We know Anaconda is headed for the door and Glendive (Dawson Country) had been recommended to do the same by the MHSA. Sounds like that won’t be happening anytime soon, though.

Private schools Billings Central and Butte Central are both in the opt-up package though they should be competing at Class B. Butte Central is waaay below the line for A schools, about 200 students short in fact. That little nugget makes the Maroons’ success at the classification all the more impressive.

At the upper end, Belgradeis peeking over the Class A cap. The school is still within that 10-percent boundary, though, and will be waiting a little longer before making any rash decisions that could lead to a hop up to the big leagues. Belgradehas grown by about 50 students in the last five years.

ColumbiaFalls, once a sure-in for the next AA school. Has lost more than 100 in that same time span, though.

Libby, which has averaged 338.5 students for the last 2-year period, has also drawn an MHSA recommendation to move to Class B, but the school has not made a decision yet.

Any and all changes will be made for the 2015-16 school year, so there’s still another year before any moves will take effect.

Class B serves a very wide range of school sizes. The most interesting prospect, especially to the western Montanaarea, involves Ronan. The LakeCountyschool dropped from Class A to B just three years ago, but enrollment numbers are actually up there since that time.

No other school is too close to the top end of the range.

The other side has quite a few schools near dropping to Class C, though none is on the west end of the state. Plentywood has accepted the MHSA’s recommendation to move to Class C, but Forsyth, Lodge Grass and Lame Deer have all decided to stay in B for now.

Class C (you can ignore those two highlighted numbers; this graphic came from the MHSA website) is full of a wide range of schools enrollment-wise as well and that’s where we usually see the most co-ops formed.

Only Chinook has exceeded the max student body, but the school is petitioning for further inclusion at Class C.

Not many changes in MHSA reclassification carousel

Glendive staying in Class A despite recommendation

Glendive is staying put.

That’s the official word from Mark Beckman, who said the Red Devils elected to stay in Class A after the Montana High School Association again recommended a drop down to Class B.

Beckman, the MHSA executive director, said Glendive, Forsyth, Lame Deer and Lodge Grass are staying in their respective classes, though their enrollment numbers make them eligible to play in a lower classification. Forsyth, Lame Deer and Lodge Grass are Class B schools.

“If (schools are) going to be recommended to go down, they can always stay up if they want,” Beckman said. “If they’re over the (enrollment cutoffs) and they have to go up, they have to go up or come to the (MHSA) board and prove, show or demonstrate that they have the numbers that aren’t going to sustain that.”

Chinook is one of the schools that is appealing the MHSA recommendation. Beckman said the MHSA recommended Chinook, which had a 2013-14 fall enrollment of 142 students according to the MHSA’s website, move up to Class B from Class C.

By the enrollment guidelines, Class C schools need to be between one and 119 students. The Class B range is 120 students to 339. Class A is 340 to 825, and AA is anything above that.

Chinook will make its appeal to the MHSA on Monday.

Two schools are accepting the MHSA recommendation to drop down. Anaconda will move from Class A to Class B, and Plentywood will move from Class B to Class C.

Those changes are effective beginning in the fall of 2015.

“What we do now in the April meeting is we’re going to identify schools to move in the next cycle, which will be 2015-16,” Beckman said, “to give schools time to look who’s coming down, who’s coming up to realign. All realignment has to be done at the November meeting of our executive board.”

At last November’s meeting, the Northern C agreed to realign its districts, effective next fall.

When making recommendations, the MHSA uses a school’s average enrollment over the past two years. Beckman said Anaconda’s average was 326.5 students, which made it one of the smaller Class A schools.

Billings Central and Butte Central are annually in the smaller tier of Class A schools, but they both petitioned to stay in the class again “as they have for years now,” according to Beckman.

The MHSA also recommended Libby move from Class A to Class B. Libby’s two-year average enrollment was 338.5 students, putting the school just below the 339 cutoff. Beckman said Libby will make its decision whether to stay in Class A or accept the drop to Class B on Monday night.

Bozeman High Is The Largest!

    Billings West is no longer the largest high school in the state!  With 1,961 students Bozeman is now the biggest!  West High comes in second with 1,883 students, while Billings Senior is third at 1,730!

   The largest class "A" school is still Belgrade with 854 students, followed by Columbia Falls at 691 and Laurel is number three with 649!   In 2015-16 Anaconda will drop from class "A" to "B"!  With 323 students Anaconda is the second smallest class "A" school!  Butte Central remains the smallest in "A" with an enrollment of just 136!

   The biggest in "B" is Ronan at 350, the smallest Lame Deer with only 106 students!   Check this out....Fairfield is the 4th smallest class "B" high school with only 117 students!

  With an enrollment of 142 Chinook is the largest in "C"!  We have 29 high schools in the state with less than 30 students....the smallest Judith Gap with 6!

RONAN'S ENROLLMENT IS MORE THAN 7 CLASS 'A' SCHOOLS.

CLASS 'A'

 Belgrade

854

 

ColumbiaFalls

691

 

Laurel

649

 

Havre

558

 

Browning

544

 

Hamilton

513

 

Polson

511

 

CusterCounty

504

Whitefish

497

Park

484

Corvallis

437

Hardin

427

Sidney

397

Frenchtown

389

Stevensville

385

BeaverheadCounty

349

Libby

348

Fergus

335

BillingsCentral

331

DawsonCounty

329

Anaconda

323

ButteCentral

136

CLASS 'B'

RONAN 350


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