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The Suburbanite
  • Enrollment numbers could make OHSAA vote difficult

  • Ballots are in the mail and high school principals across Stark County have a decision to make. The way Dan Ross sees it, they can either vote to accept a competitive balance proposal to start addressing how public and nonpublic schools get their students, or they can kick the can down the road for another year.

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  •  Ballots are in the mail and high school principals across Stark County have a decision to make. The way Dan Ross sees it, they can either vote to accept a competitive balance proposal to start addressing how public and nonpublic schools get their students, or they can kick the can down the road for another year.
    Ross, the OHSAA commissioner, is hoping a competitive balance referendum item passes over the course of the two-week voting period that started Wednesday.
    However, complicating matters is an apparent mistake in enrollment numbers for the next school year. While the two — competitive balance and enrollment size — are not related, they are connected.
    Louisville City Schools, for example, has been credited with 101 more boys for the 2013-15 school years based on Ohio Department of Education numbers provided to the Ohio High School Athletic Association. If those numbers are correct, Louisville should be receiving more money in state funding.
    That isn’t the case, Athletic Director Rich Venuto said.
    “I would think we will be appealing if we think the numbers are incorrect,” Venuto said.
    Schools have until Monday to appeal the enrollment findings. However, they won’t find out until after the referendum voting period has ended if those appeals are successful.
    Every two years the OHSAA uses enrollment data from the ODE to determine which schools play in what divisions. Ross acknowledged there seems to be statewide issues with some of the enrollment numbers.
    “We’re trying to work through it with the ODE about that situation,” Ross said. “We knew it would be a struggle with the numbers because of the data scrubbing investigation. I don’t know exactly what the issue is on their end, but the information from the schools looks like the enrollment numbers are for all four (grades).”
    OHSAA only uses the number of students in grades 9, 10 and 11 since high school senior classes will be out of school by the time the new numbers are used.
    “I would absolutely anticipate more appeals than normal,” Ross said. “We will make sure we get it right before any (division) assignments. It may take until June, but we will work with the schools on that.”
    Other school districts that had an unusual amount of fluctuation include Minerva, McKinley, Green, Canton South and Massillon.
    “They have us with over 100 more boys and 60 more girls than what should be,” Minerva High School Principal Michael Riley said.
    ODE numbers show Minerva gaining 72 boys, when it seems to have lost some. It appears to be about the same swing with female students.
    Riley said he checked the four-year ODE count as well, and even that is lower than what ODE gave to the OHSAA.
    Page 2 of 3 - “I don’t know what or where they’re pulling their data from and I don’t know what happened, but I filed a formal appeal already,” Riley said.
    Riley said he’s confident the enrollment issue will be fixed because all administrators have access to the same information. He doesn’t believe that will impact the referendum vote.
    “I think competitive balance is going to come down to how each individual district is affected by that proposal,” Riley said. “We’ve talked about it and we’re trying to visit as many sources and get opinions so there’s no surprises. We will have it dialed in by May 15.”
    Ross is hoping the enrollment problems do not impact votes for competitive balance. If this referendum fails, it further delays Ohio athletics being changed.
    “It is kicking the can down the road,” Ross said. “The next proposal will probably be some form of separation.”
    The current proposal would add enrollment to public and nonpublic schools based on the number of out-of-district players are each roster. It also, for the first time, places a nonpublic school inside an attendance zone. For example, Central Catholic High School would receive added enrollment per sport for each student-athlete on a particular roster outside of the Perry Local School District, the actual district in which Central Catholic is located.
    “An awful lot of people feel this is the most equitable thing we’ve had of all the proposals,” Ross said.
    Each of the last two years, competitive balance proposals were narrowly defeated.
    “Is it perfect? No,” Ross said. “But they feel it’s as good a start and as equitable a proposal as we’ve had. I didn’t use the word fair because fair is in the eyes of the beholder.”
    Some administrators have expressed hesitation in voting for a proposal where all the details aren’t worked out. Ross has said a competitive balance committee — made up of principals, athletic directors and superintendents from across Ohio — would work through some of the details in the numbers.
    “We had an informational meeting in Cuyahoga Falls and I told them there were people in this room that don’t want to do anything at all,” Ross said. “There are people in this room that no matter what you do, it won’t be enough. There are people in the room that want to know how does this affect my school, and if it doesn’t affect me in the positive way, I’m not voting for it.
    “You’re never going to find a proposal that satisfies all those people.”
    The OHSAA does not have a voting interest on the competitive balance committee. Associate commissioners Bob Goldring and Jeff Jordan, as well as Ross, are on the committee. But Ross is chair of the committee and does not vote. Jordan is the OHSAA’s financial “number cruncher,” and Goldring records the minutes of the meetings.
    Page 3 of 3 - “I told the people at the Cuyahoga Falls meeting, if you don’t trust your peers on the committee, two of them are in this room,” Ross said. “We have representatives from the principals association, the superintendents association and athletic directors association. All those groups poll their members and they’re going to vote the way their members tell them to.”
    Most principals have said they have not yet decided on who they will vote on the referendum. Central Catholic Principal Dave Oates, however, has said Central will oppose the referendum. Venuto said his district hasn’t formulated an opinion quite yet.
    “As an outsider, I would say we’ve been through two votes on competitive balance and both went down,” Venuto said. “This is a brand new proposal. We staved off separation. I give the guys in these committees a lot of credit. They pretty much have an idea of how to solve the problem. ... I think our administrators are more worried about what’s best for the good of Ohio athletics.”
    Reach Todd at 330-580-8340 or todd.porter@cantonrep.com
    On Twitter: @tporterREP