Four Gwinnett schools have moved to different classifications by the The Georgia High School Association, which released its assignments for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years Tuesday.
The GHSA put 17 Gwinnett schools in Class AAAAAAA, including newcomer Dacula, which moves up from its current spot in AAAAAA. Dacula and Shiloh will be the smallest two schools in the state’s largest classification.
Central Gwinnett dropped down a classification to AAAAAA, where it will be joined by Buford and Lanier. Lanier stays put in that class, while Buford moves up from its current spot in AAAAA. Buford was moved up based on the GHSA multiplier and its reported 339 students who live outside the attendance zone — each out of zone student counts as two students for reclassification.
Greater Atlanta Christian also made a jump from AAA to AAAA in the latest reclassification. GAC was bumped up based on its 661 students who live out of the designated attendance zone.
Only five of the 57 schools in AAAA have an enrollment under 1,000, and GAC is by far the smallest with 672 students. It will compete with schools twice its size in that class.
“We’ve been involved in extensive discussions (with the GHSA) and this is exactly what we expected,” GAC athletic director Tim Hardy said. “It was not a surprise at all today. We knew where we would end up.”
Gwinnett’s other private schools — Hebron, Providence and Wesleyan — will remain in Class A Private.
Schools have until Nov. 11 to appeal their classification or request a move up in classification. The Reclassification Committee will meet Nov. 12 to hear appeals.
Schools in classes A and AAAAAAA were classified based only on their FTE or enrollment numbers because the rules adopted by the State Executive Committee do not allow schools to be forced up into 7A or out of 1A because of the multiplier. Schools in classes AA through AAAAAA were classified based on their Student Reclassification Count, which is derived using a multiplier of 2.0 on students residing outside the school’s designated attendance zone.
Because schools can’t be “forced up into 7A,” the multiplier doesn’t affect schools at the higher end of AAAAAA like Wheeler, whose reclassification figure includes 475 out of zone students. Its true enrollment is 2,179 — barely more than the two smallest schools in AAAAAAA, Shiloh (2,200) and Dacula (2,196).
By comparison, Wheeler’s 475 out of zone students is considerably more than Dacula (95) and Shiloh (62). Of the biggest schools in AAAAAA, all have between 234 and 555 out of zone students.
With the multiplier, Wheeler’s reclassification count is 2,654 compared to 2,262 for Shiloh and 2,291 for Dacula.
“Ultimately, the decision is not up to us,” Dacula athletic and activities director Zach Smith said. “We’re excited about competing wherever we land. We believe in our coaches and our student-athletes. We think we can compete wherever we land.”