Just nine students — not even enough to field a full offense or defense in football — appears to be the difference between Squalicum High School athletic teams competing at the Class 3A or Class 2A level for the next four school years.
And this time, it appears the Storm was just a little too big for its own good — at least for now.
The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association on Thursday, Jan. 14, released the 2016-2020 classification enrollment figures, and it appears Squalicum will now compete against larger 3A schools in the postseason beginning next fall rather than remain in the 2A ranks, where the school has been classified the past eight school years.
We’ll embrace the move. We’re not intimidated by going to 3A.
Squalicum athletic director Patrick Brown on the prospects of the Storm moving up to Class 3A
The WIAA Executive Board still must approve the list of 384 schools during its Jan. 24-25 meeting.
Squalicum athletic director Patrick Brown said he is considering submitting an appeal at that meeting to see if Squalicum can remain at the 2A level over a process he said he’s been watching for a while.
“It’s (would be) an appeal based on the process,” Brown said in a phone interview. “It’s on the way their counting the number of students for multi-high school districts that I feel doesn’t reflect the FTE (Full Time Equivalent) in our building. We feel it inflates it a bit.”
Enrollment figures are based on the average monthly enrollment of students in grades nine through 11, according to a WIAA release.
Brown said that with Bellingham and Sehome also in the Bellingham Public Schools District, the Storm’s enrollment numbers were slightly higher than they should be.
“Basically, we hope to argue a process, and those are sometimes hard to defeat,” Brown said. “If there was an error in recording numbers, that’s one thing, but if it’s me questioning that multi-school districts are having their numbers inflated, it kind of limits things.”
Squalicum checked in with an enrollment figure of 980.14 students, which would make it the second-smallest 3A school in the state ahead of only Bonney Lake (971.72). The Storm’s figure is just nine students — 8.56, to be exact — higher than Highline’s total of 971.58, which would be the highest total in 2A.
“We’re only talking 8 1/2 students, and if the number of students walking our halls doesn’t reflect the number the WIAA reported, I have to question that,” Brown said.
Rather than being one of the biggest 2A schools in the state, as it has been since moving down from the 3A ranks following the 2007-08 school year, Squalicum will now be competing against schools nearly 1 1/2 times its size. Redmond is expected to be the largest 3A school with an enrollment total of 1,343.16.
8 State championships won by Squalicum athletic teams during the past 7-plus school years in the 2A classification
1 State championship won by Squalicum in two school years (2006-08) in Class 3A under the WIAA’s current six-classification hierarchy
“We’ll embrace the move,” Brown said if his appeal is denied or Squalicum decides not to submit an appeal. “We’re not intimidated by going to 3A. Our programs, for the most part, are in good shape and aren’t intimidated by facing competition at the next level.”
Ferndale remained Whatcom County’s only other 3A school with a more median 3A enrollment of 1,189.00.
No other Northwest Conference schools are expected to move up or down for the next enrollment cycle, which the WIAA last year voted to lengthen to four school years from the previous duration of every two years.
It appears Blaine will remain in the 2A ranks with Bellingham (760.11), Lynden (601.75) and Sehome (867.13). The Borderites’ enrollment figure of 484.13 was the third smallest in the classification ahead of only Woodland (476.75) and Granite Falls (461.25), which moves back up from the 1A ranks.
Mount Baker (409.88) will stay in 1A, along with Lynden Christian (249.63), Meridian (368.25) and Nooksack Valley (337.38).
Lummi Nation School (61.75) also remained in the Class 1B ranks.
Area schools enrollment