Classification changes loom with new WIAA amendments

High schools in Kitsap County are facing changes in classifications for 2024-28, based on enrollment.

They will find out this winter when the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association decides.

Of the largest schools in Kitsap, Bainbridge and Central Kitsap are 3A schools while South Kitsap is 4A.

Currently, 4A schools have an enrollment of 1,300 or more kids while 3A is 900-1,299. But the new amendment has dropped the numbers to 1,225 or more and 3A being 900-1,224.

The new amendment will most likely not affect Bainbridge. In the previous classification cycle, Bainbridge High’s average enrollment was 1,027. Since 2020-21, the school has been getting closer to becoming a 2A school.

According to Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the enrollment of Bainbridge in 2022-23 was 922. The 2A enrollment numbers are 450-899.

However, Central Kitsap may become a 4A school. In the previous cycle, CK had an average enrollment of 1,107 students. However, it passed the new 4A threshold this year with 1,229. The ranges are calculated based on the prior four years. Central Kitsap’s average enrollment during that time is 1,220.

Overall, the WIAA passed eight of 11 amendments, which will be added to its 2023-24 handbook.

Another amendment that was approved is complicated. It defines a resident public school and school of choice.

Casey Johnson of the WIAA said, “The amendment would make it that a student attending a school of choice and choosing to transfer due to hardship, would only be eligible at the varsity level if they are now attending their resident public school.”

North Kitsap School District’s director of secondary education Craig Barry provided an example. “Our student has been attending a school of choice and during May of his ninth-grade year had an unfortunate incident and would like to transfer to a different choice school near our family home. How can he play varsity sports at the new school?

“He would need to apply for, and be granted, an appeal due to a hardship at the previous school. However, if eligibility is granted through the appeal process, he would be eligible at his resident public school, not another school of choice. In order to gain varsity eligibility at a different choice school, the hardship appeal process would also need to identify a hardship as to why he cannot attend the resident public school.”

That can affect some of the school districts limiting transfers to other schools of choice like Kingston and North Kitsap or Central Kitsap, Klahowya and Olympic.

Another amendment requires all coaches, paid or volunteer, to complete the WIAA general rules clinic and rules clinic for a specific sport annually.

Barry said, “I am in favor of this, and the WIAA has a good platform for the clinics. I am concerned about how we will get the volunteers onto the platform and track their completion.”

Yet another amendment will affect tennis teams. Previously, they were able to compete in 16 team events and individuals could compete in 23 matches. The new rules have pushed to 18 team and 25 individual matches.

Olympic coach Kristi Gonzalez will not be looking for extra matches, but North Kitsap’s Jay Devries might.

“It depends on who the possible matches are with, and I would like to play some teams that have more players that can compete to get my players more match ready for the district and state tournaments,” Devries said.

The other amendments passed include league review of the WIAA administration regarding the misinterpretation of a rule is no longer required, eighth-graders who transfer to a district where they can play high school sports are eligible for the remainder of the season, and middle school basketball games can either be four eight-minute quarters or two 20-minute halves.

The failed amendments include splitting the 1B classification into 1B-1 and 1B-2, allowing for accommodations to be made for students to participate in non-school athletic activities no more than twice a week, and a basketball tournament consisting up to four contests played on consecutive days would count as one contest toward the season limitation.

Bainbridge enrollment numbers could see the Spartans change classifications next cycle.

Bainbridge enrollment numbers could see the Spartans change classifications next cycle.