Apalachee High School’s athletic teams are set to move up from Class 5A to 6A, while Winder-Barrow will move in the opposite direction under the Georgia High School Association’s two-year reclassification plan.
The GHSA on Tuesday, Nov. 2, announced the classifications for the 2022-23 and 2023-24 school years, with the association’s new 2.0 out-of-zone enrollment multiplier shuffling several private and city schools into higher classifications — a move aimed at addressing what several GHSA committee leaders have said presents a competitive disadvantage in those schools’ favor when they compete against similar-sized schools without as many out-of-county or out-of-zone students.
The GHSA is set to hear appeals on classifications Nov. 10 and, after the appeals process is complete, will place schools into regions for the next two years.
After spending last school year and the current one in 5A and 6A, respectively, Apalachee and Winder-Barrow will be trading places. Apalachee, which was listed with a 2021 full-time enrollment of 1,910 students and 40 out-of-zone students, has a GHSA multiplier count of 1,990. The school, which was in 6A for four years before moving down at the start of 2020-21, will, at least initially, be near the bottom of the new 6A, though enrollment is expected to continue to increase as the population in Barrow County continues to grow. Winder-Barrow, which is in its sixth year in 6A, will move back to 5A for the first time since 2015-16. The school’s multiplier count is listed at 1,928, with 1,846 students (third most in the proposed new 5A) and 41 out-of-zone students.
With the change in classification, both schools are likely to be placed in much different regions as well.
Out of the current seven-school Region 8-AAAAAA, Winder-Barrow is the only one moving down. Buford, a city school that has a listed enrollment of 1,784 students but has 360 out of zone, is slated to move up to 7A, while Dacula, which has an enrollment now approaching 2,500, is also bumping up to the highest classification. Central Gwinnett will also move to 7A, while Shiloh, Habersham Central and Lanier are all set to remain in 6A.
Conversely, Apalachee is the only school out of the current eight-member 8-AAAAA moving up in class, while Johnson-Gainesville is the only one dropping down (4A). The remainder of that region — Clarke Central, Loganville, Jackson County, Walnut Grove and Greenbrier — is slated to remain in 5A and at least some of those schools could join Winder-Barrow in a new region. Jefferson, another city school impacted by the new multiplier, is also set to move up to 5A and would seem a likely region partner for Winder-Barrow.
Meanwhile, Barrow Arts and Sciences Academy will move up from Class A to AA, with a listed enrollment of 611 and a multiplier count of 617, placing it near the bottom of the classification. BASA, a choice school open to all Barrow County students, offers most sports and is in its first year of competing at the varsity level in a handful of sports.