BOONE, Iowa — Iowa high schools will get to vote on a proposed change to include socioeconomic factors in how football teams are classified, following a decision by the Iowa High School Athletic Association’s Board of Control Monday.

The board voted to adopt the recommendation from the IHSAA’s classification committee that would put in place a system similar to what is used in Minnesota. The change would subtract 40% of its free and reduced lunch program percentage from the school’s total enrollment to determine its final classification number.

Right now, only the school’s enrollment determines its class.

“Our schools have asked us to consider socioeconomic factors in classification and the IHSAA, after much study and discussion, is pleased to offer such a strategy,” IHSAA executive director Tom Keating said.

The next step in the process is for member schools to vote between December 16-22. Each member high school gets one vote. The principal for the 64 schools with the highest enrollment, and the district superintendent for all the other schools, will cast the vote. For it to move on one of two things must happen: 50% of all member schools must approve it or 60% of the member schools that participate in the vote must approve the idea.

From there, the amendment to the IHSAA’s Articles of Incorporation would be submitted to the State Board of Education for approval. If the SBE approves it, the amendment can be implemented by the IHSAA and the change in classification could go into effect for the 2023-24 football season.

“The overwhelming majority of communication regarding concerns with competitive equity referenced football,” Keating said.  “Additionally, football is the only sport in which the regular season is scheduled by the IHSAA. In all other sports, individual schools, through conference affiliation or their non-conference opponents, determine their own regular season schedules. We will continue to study other sports to determine if this model should be applied.”

The IHSAA provided an example of how the proposed new classification number would be reached:

How: Reduce a school’s BEDS enrollment by 40 percent of its district’s FRL percentage.

Example: A school’s BEDS enrollment (9-11) for the upcoming school year is 1,000. The district’s FRL percentage is 37%.

  • 1,000 – (0.40 x [1,000 x 0.37])
  • 1,000 – 0.40 x 370
  • 1,000 – 148
  • IHSAA classification number: 852