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Saturday, January 29, 2011

This OHSAA Competitive Balance Formula...explained (maybe).

Maybe you've seen this, maybe you haven't. Back in March of 2010, a group of Wayne County Superintendents got together and submitted a proposal to the OHSAA (here's the actual proposal) asking them to do something to level the competitive playing field among private and public schools in Ohio.

The OHSAA assembled a blue-ribbon "fact-finding" committee (which always produces results, right?) to come up with a solution...and it's a doozy.

Sharpen your pencils, and better yet, get a calculator and let's try to figure this out together.  Remember to show your work.

Referring back to the Wayne County Superintendent report, which at least got responses for almost 350 (or nearly 50%) of the member OHSAA schools, there was a clear consensus on two things.  One was that there WAS a perceived (and probably real) competitive imbalance among private and public schools in Ohio.  And two, that something needed to be done.  Whether it was using a multiplier to put private schools in higher divisions or holding separate tournaments.

What was interesting about the survey sent out by the Wayne County group was that 97% of the respondents were from public schools, yet only 67.5% believed there was a competitive imbalance, and just a little over 70% were in favor of either multiplying enrollment or separating tournaments.

So just among respondents to the survey, 30% were denying an imbalance existed, and 25% were not in favor of separating or multiplying private schools.  I found that really interesting.  So maybe it depends on what part of the state you live in.  Maybe fans in the Youngstown area (where Mooney & Ursuline seem to always be in the state title picture in football) see more of an imbalance, where fans in southeastern Ohio (where the good schools are public schools like Ironton & Steubenville don't feel it's as prevalent.

The "Solution"
Nevertheless, the state board acted, and have put forth a proposal.  It reads like a geometry problem, but instead of solving for X, we'll be solving for something called the FAC, or final athletic count.

As of right now, the proposal only applies to football, volleyball & soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter, and baseball and softball in the spring.

Here's how it works....with examples of what it would do to Orrville's enrollment, and whether or not any real impact is seen.

Beginning Enrollment
Every school has a beginning enrollment, a count of boys and girls in grades 9 through 11, currently conducted every two years.  The last count was in 2008.  Orrville's boys count in 2008 was 211 and the girls count was 182.

Factor #1 - The Boundary Factor
The first factor in adjusting enrollment is the boundary factor.  This takes into account the area from which schools can pull students from.  The wider a schools "boundary" the higher the increase in their Final Athletic Count (FAC).

The state is using 5 different boundary factors, with each having a different impact.  They are...
1. Non-public schools with no boundaries = a 10% increase in FAC.
2. Non-public schools with limited boundaries = a 8% increase in FAC.
3. Public schools with statewide open enrollment = a 6% increase in FAC.
4. Public schools with open enrollment from adjacent districts = a 4% increase in FAC.
5. Public schools with no open enrollment = a 0% increase in FAC.

The state is also saying that in example #3 and #4 that an increase will not take place if the number of open enrollment students LEAVING the district is greater than the number of students coming in to the district.

So if Orrville has 25 kids coming into the district from neighboring districts, but is losing 30 kids to schools like Central Christian or Kingsway, then Orrville would not suffer any additions to their final athletic count.

I think this is good.  One of the chief complaints towards private schools is they can essentially recruit from a county wide, or multi-county area.  That was a specific advantage that would translate to on-field success more often than not.  This essentially punishes private schools who have wide coverage area.

If I'm not mistaken (and someone correct me if I am), Orrville accepts students via open enrollment from neighboring districts only (Dalton to the East, Green Local to the North and West & Southeast to the South), thus adding 4% to our final athletic count. Per Orrville AD Kent Smith, Orrville accepts enrollment from anywhere in the state, which would add 6% to our final athletic count.

BUT, we lose more students to other districts than we take in, so we would not be effected by the Boundary Factor at all.

Factor #2 - The Socioeconomic Factor
This one is simple...but complicated.  The state feels a measure of socioeconomic status needs to be included because, basically, rich districts have more access to equipment & facilities and in their eyes, that equals an increased potential for success.

So in order to level the playing field, the state will use the number of students receiving free lunches to determine the SF or socioeconomic factor.

The proposal reads that the number of students receiving free lunches in either the high school, or THE ENTIRE DISTRICT, will be multiplied by 10%, and that number will be deducted from the final athletic count.

Now this begs the question, wouldn't every public school district in the state use the number of free lunches over their entire district rather than just at the high school?

Say Orrville has 1,500 students in the district.  I have to think that's in the ballpark.  And say 20% are on free lunches.  That's 300 kids.  Ten percent of 300 is 30.  Now say that same 20% number exists at the high school, and the high school has 500 students.  Twenty percent of 500 is 100 students receiving free lunches.  Ten percent of 100 is only 10 students.

So if you count the whole district, you have your final number reduced by 30, but if you count only the high school kids, you only get reduced by 10 kids.  I know which one I'd choose.

In the sense that these numbers can be tracked...I like it.  It isn't necessarily a catch-all though.  Many would consider some school districts in Southeastern Ohio to be pretty poor, yet schools in that area like Bellaire, Steubenville and Ironton historically perform well year in and year out in football.

Number of free lunches aren't necessarily an indicator of a lacking athletics program, just as a district with few free lunch students doesn't equate strong athletics.

Let's assume my above examples are true.  Orrville has 300 kids getting free lunches in the district, so by the state formula, we get 30 kids deducted from our final athletic count.

Original count of boys was 218 + boundary factor of 8.72 - socioeconomic factor of 30 = 196.72 boys

Factor #3 - The Tradition Factor
Again, fairly simple....the more successful you are, the more your final count increases.  In this factor, the state will look at recent success (the past four school years) on a sport by sport basis.  Here is the state's formula...

1. An appearance in a regional final will add 6% to the final athletic count
2. An appearance in the state semifinals will add 8% to the final athletic count
3. An appearance in the state finals will add 10% to the final athletic count

Again, this is sport by sport, not a cumulative total from all sports.  And the state further clarifies that only the highest result from each of the past four years will be used, but a running percentage total from the four year snapshot will be used.

Quick example...if a football team went to a regional final in 2008 (6%), and a state final in 2010 (10%), then the total tradition factor for the 4-year period would be 16%.

I like this one most of all in terms of making it tougher on parochial schools, but it can also impact public schools.  See below for what I mean

Let's see how this would affect Orrville football.  Looking at the past four years...2007, 2008, 2009, 2010.  Orrville made a regional final in 2009 and made a state semifinal in 2010.  That would result in a 14% increase (or 30.52 boys) added to our final athletic count in football.

It would happen for the count in basketball as well.  We went to the state finals last year, so that would add 21.8 boys (10% of 218) to our count in basketball.

Final Impact
So what does this mean for Orrville.  See below for how our numbers would be impacted in each of the sports that this proposal would apply to.  Please do not assume these are accurate.  Until we know the free-lunch numbers, all of this is a big guess.

 218 (original count) + 0 (boundary factor) - 30 (socioeconomic factor) + 34.88 (tradition factor) = 222.88

 218 (original count) + 0 (boundary factor) - 30 (socioeconomic factor) + 0 (tradition factor) =188

182 (original count) + 0 (boundary factor) - 30 (socioeconomic factor) + 0 (tradition factor) = 152

Boys Basketball
218 (original count) + 0 (boundary factor) - 30 (socioeconomic factor) + 21.8 (tradition factor) = 209.8

Girls Basketball
182 (original count) + 0 (boundary factor) - 30 (socioeconomic factor) + 0 (tradition factor) = 152

182 (original count) + 0 (boundary factor) - 30 (socioeconomic factor) + 0 (tradition factor) = 160.72

218 (original count) + 0 (boundary factor) - 30 (socioeconomic factor) + 0 (tradition factor) =188

Guess how many division changes this will amount to?  One.  In soccer.  We'd drop from Division 2 to Division 3.  Yippee.

So I guess this proposal doesn't really help or hurt us, and while it does address some of the problem, it doesn't fix it all.  But maybe it's a good compromise.  I do wonder what Division 1 powerhouses like St. Ignatius, St. Edward would do.  They're already D-1 schools.  Can't go any higher than that.

This proposal seems aimed at schools like Delphos St. Johns and Youngstown Ursuline, small division private schools where the competitive advantage is more obvious....but it's just going to move them up a division in most cases.

Guess what this would do to a school like Youngstown Ursuline, in football specifically?  A LOT.  They've been to four straight state finals, winning three of them.  Their running, 4-year tradition factor would be 40%.  They have 173 boys right now, a 40% tradition factor would add 69.2 boys to their totals.

Say they have, at least, limited boundaries for enrollment, that's another 8% addition, or another 13.84 students.  So 173 plus 69.2 plus 13.84 equals 256.4 boys.

That would jump them from Division 5 all the way up to Division 3 (cutoff is currently 252 boys) per the current divisional cutoff points, unless they find a few students to get free lunches, and I bet they do, then they'd be Division 4.  So what was Division 5's problem now would become Division 3's, or more likely, Division 4's problem.

Who else is in Division 4?  Oh that's right, us.

Be careful what you wish just might get it.

Another issue here is that right now, this is just a proposal, and it sounds like even public schools who know there's a competitive balance problem, may have a hard time voting for this plan.  The last time something like this happened was back in the 70's.  Lots of schools said there was a problem, but when it came time to vote, all that sentiment was lost and the measure was soundly defeated.

I think in the end, this proposal might meet the same fate, especially from some reactionary articles I've read.  And it will be back to the drawing board for those wishing to change the system.  There's no silver bullet unfortunately, unless you separate public and private schools into 2 separate leagues, which Kettering Alter coach Ed Domsitz warns might happen if this proposal is adopted.

I'd hate to see private schools lumped into their own division.  There was something sweeter about beating Ursuline in 1998 on our way to the D-4 football crown, same with our regional final win over Akron St. V in the 1992 basketball tournament.  Those are the wins your remember.  The time when David beats Goliath.  I'd hate to see that go away.

On the other hand, I think it's complete garbage for parochial schools to say their success is because they "work harder" or are "more dedicated," and if schools do that, instant success will follow. That's just baloney. Sure, success breeds success, and tradition plays a big part in it. But when you can go out and hand pick kids from a county wide (or larger) area, you're not playing by the same rules. It's a slap in the face to hard-working towns like Coldwater, Ironton, Steubenville, Canton, Massillon and even Orrville.

Somewhere in the middle is the answer, I just don't know what it is.

Your thoughts?  On the proposal, the alternatives, and the solutions...if any.


Anonymous said...

#1 our borders are statewide I am pretty sure, but we also probably have more kids leaving than coming? so point #1 may be net zero. I also heard that 1 division is the maximum a school could jump? Can anybody verify that?

Red Rider Sports Blog (Tim Snyder) said...

interesting points. I guess I don't know for sure about the borders thing. Maybe an e-mail to Kent Smith is in order.

About the 2nd topic of teams only bumping up 1 division...what's the point of all those factors then? Why not just do away with all this and make any parochial school play up a division. Would simplify things.

Anonymous said...

What a horrible idea this is. Taking into account the number of public schools not fit to send your kids to and the percentage of final four participants, I'd say the balance is as close as your going to get. I think that the public schools and the fans in support of this need to focus a little more on what it will take to get there and a lot less on how it can be brought down to the level we're at currently.

Anonymous said...

I looked at your competitive balance formula calculations and Orrville has around 50% of their students on free and reduced lunches. Seemed like a high number to me when I first heard it, but I bet that drops us a division or gets us closer to it.

Red Rider Sports Blog (Tim Snyder) said...

The OHSAA only mentions free lunches...I wondered too if reduced lunches will be a factor.

50% still seems high to me.

Anonymous said... per this article from May 50% of the student qualify for free or reduced lunchs

Red Rider Sports Blog (Tim Snyder) said...

Thanks for the link....we still don't know whether or not the OHSAA is using "free and reduced" or just "free."

I don't doubt that 50% are getting assistance, but of that, how many are totally free, and how many are reduced? That's what I'd like to know.

Thanks again for being part of the conversation.