Leading off today: As I mentioned over the weekend
, the agenda for Friday's NYSPHSAA Executive Committee meeting in Troy is heavy on discussion and information items but relatively light on matters culminating in a vote.
Keep in mind, however, that items being voted on Friday got their original airing to the New York State Public High School Athletic Association membership as discussion and informational items at previous sectional and state meetings. That means that Friday will be a step toward bringing many of the agenda items to a vote at July's Central Committee meetings.
In terms of impact throughout the state, No. 1 on that list of discussion items is probably the proposal to revise the graduated scale used to calculate enrollment figures for schools that combine forces in a team sport.
The graduated scale was approved by the Executive Committee in January 2013 to help schools at risk of dropping particular sports due to low participation. It has indisputably preserved participation and has in several cases bought time for schools to beef up their individual programs so that they could return to going it alone in that sport.
However, it's also led to concerns by the NYSPHSAA membership about the creation of "super teams" formed when two or more squads combine forces. In many cases, the combined enrollment figure under the graduated scale hasn't bumped the schools up to a higher class for sectional and state tournaments. In fact, the stronger program in a potential partnership often will not go forward with the process if it means moving up to a higher class.
A NYSPHSAA survey conducted over the winter saw five of the 11 sections categorize themselves as dissatisfied with the current system. Two were neutral and four were either satisfied or very satisfied.
The proposal on the table calls for:
(1) Counting 100 percent of the enrollment if four or more schools combine forces; and
(2) Ramping up the percentage of school BEDS numbers used in the calculation when two or three schools combine.
Currently, the graduated scale is 50 percent in Class AA, 40 in A, 30 in B and C, and 20 percent in Class D. The percentage is applied to the BEDS figure of the smaller school(s) involved in the consolidation.
The proposal up for consideration calls for using 100 percent of enrollment for Classes AA, A and B. The percentages for Classes C and D would be 40 and 30 percent, respectively.
In the survey, Sections 1, 2, 4, 7 and 9 voiced support for the proposed revisions. Sections 6 and 10 supported less drastic (but still significant) changes.
A few numbers driving the discussion:
• Ten sections (Section 4 data wasn't available) reported a total of 80 sectional championships earned by combined programs over the most recent three-year period.
• In the 2013-14 school year (the first with the graduated scale), the Jamesville-DeWitt/Syracuse CBA boys hockey team was the only combined squad to win an official NYSPHSAA title or place second. Pittsford boys swimming won an unofficial team crown.
By 2015-16, the number of official top-two finishes grew to three (boys bowling champ Sachem, boys soccer runner-up Elizabethtown-Lewis/Westport and girls lacrosse runner-up Pittsford). Additionally, Pittsford topped team scoring in girls swimming, Half Hollow Hills won in boys swimming, four schools combined for the girls alpine top honor and Pittsford was second in boys alpine skiing.
There was a similar trend toward rapid growth by combined teams for the lower rungs on the awards podium -- six top-eight finishes in 2012-13 vs. 22 last school year, as calculated from results we use to compile the annual NYSSWA Kerr Cup All-Sport Championship.
End of the line ahead? A NYSPHSAA committee began shaping a plan last July in which the organization's private and charter schools might be moved out of their existing sections and placed into two newly formed geographic sections.
The committee formed to look at the concept for Sections 12 and 13 had its roots in the flare-up in Section 5 nine months earlier as superintendents from most of Monroe County's public school districts sought to have private schools ousted from sectional tournaments. Though it wasn't as much a hot-button issue in other sections, there was enough interest in studying fresh ideas for a long-discussed issue.
A somewhat workable framework has evolved from the committee's work, but there are still numerous questions to be resolved. The two representatives from each of the 11 sections are going to be asked Friday whether it's worth proceeding. A vote to move forward merely keeps the idea alive, with a vote that would approve actually making changes probably at least a year away.
In no particular order, some of the hurdles to be overcome if the concept is going to evolve into a proposal that might some day go to a vote:
• Some (if not most) charter schools are loathe to be lumped in with private schools in this particular debate, so litigation is a near-certainty. The private schools might also head to State Supreme Court.
• The question of whether the NYSPHSAA has given the two sets of transfer rule revisions since October 2014 sufficient opportunity to be evaluated.