Socioeconomics Could Change Iowa High School Football Classifications

BOONE, Iowa -- The Iowa High School Athletic Association could be changing how high school football teams are classified in the state.

They say changes will consider school's number of students who using free and reduced lunches.

"That formula will reduce the federal government's enrollment number by 40 percent of the number of students who are on free and reduced lunch in that school," says IHSAA Executive Director Tom Keating.

As an example, he uses a high school with 1,000 students--300 of whom are on free and reduced lunch. The IHSAA formula will use 40 percent of them--or 120 students--for an enrollment of 880 students for football classification.

Iowa high school sports are currently classified based solely on enrollment, which Keating says sets schools up for inequities.

"Take two schools that maybe both have 1,200 students, but one has a significant number of students that fall into that (free and reduced lunch) category--they've got significant number of kids who maybe are not participating. Your pool of kids in one school versus another is not the same" Keating says.

He says the overwhelming majority of communication the IHSAA gets regarding concerns with competitive equity reference football.

"What schools are asking us--is there way to give our students a sense that that have a chance, maybe to win, but more importantly, how do we get those scores closer. How do we compete against schools that are more like us?" Keating says.

Keating says the superintendents from Association member schools will vote on the changes starting next week.

He says it requires "yes" votes from 50 percent, plus one of all members, or 60 percent of those voting for approval.

From there, it goes to the Iowa State Board of Education, where approval means the new policy goes into effect for the 2023-24 school year.

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