By BRETT MARSHALL

bmarshall@gctelegram.com

Scott City and Cimarron High Schools will be moving into new classifications for the 2010-2011 school year based upon enrollment numbers released Monday by the Kansas State High School Activities Association.

The Beavers, who are competing in the new Great West Activities Conference this year, will move from Class 4A to 3A for all sports while the Bluejays, longtime members of the Hi-Plains League, are moving down to Class 2A from 3A.

Each year, schools in Kansas submit their enrollment numbers for grades 10-12 on Sept. 20. KSHSAA then assigns schools in their respective sports to one of six classifications the state's 32 largest in 6A, the next 32 largest in 5A, the next 63 are 4A, with 64 schools each in Classes 2A and 3A, and the remaining 100 schools in Class 1A.

For Scott City, the move coincides with the first of their two-year assignment to Class 3A for football, which was most recently determined a year ago this fall for both the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

The drop in enrollment from 198 to 179 represents a 9.6 percent decrease for Scott City. Cimarron's drop of 15 students from 133 to 118 (11.3 percent drop) puts them near the top of Class 2A (121).

According to both Randy Huck and David Ediger, athletic directors at the respective schools, it appears the classification moves will be short-lived as both expect to move back up one class in another year.

"We thought we would still be 3A until the summer when we knew a number of students would be leaving the district," said Cimarron's Ediger. "It's simply a numbers game and our senior class is small."

For Scott City, it is a similar story as their 2010 senior class had 74 students while this year's senior class has only 55.

"We'll likely jump back up to 4A next year," said Scott City's Huck. "We're not really surprised based upon the numbers we turned in last year. Our junior and senior classes are small, but our freshman class is much larger."

While Huck didn't have the size of this year's Scott City freshman class, he is confident that it will mean a one-year drop to 3A for the Beavers' other sports.

"When you move back and forth as we've done at times, it makes it more difficult to prepare for those teams that you might see in the playoffs," Huck said. "And you also are getting information late on the fall sports as to where their regional and state meets are being held."

Huck said that he and the school's administration simply monitor the numbers and then do the best they can to prepare for the notification time frame of postseason assignments.

"I'm sure we'll be on the bubble again next year," Huck said.

For Cimarron, Ediger said it was the first time they've moved a classification since the 2006-2007 school year when they were 2A. That year, the Lady Bluejays basketball team finished fourth in the state basketball tournament.

"We've got 35 seniors this year and next year our freshmen will count for the high school and we have 62 in that class," Ediger said. "The move really doesn't impact us a lot, other than just different reams. The caliber of play is not much different from 3A to 2A."

Ediger said that many of his athletes are enthused about the classification switch, offering some new competition when it comes to postseason play.

"I think you kind of just enjoy seeing somebody different rather than the same teams every year," Ediger said.

The Bluejays, in basketball, have had annual sub-state assignments with Lakin, Southwestern Heights and Holcomb, all area schools that will remain in Class 3A.

"Our district is growing, the enrollment is up in the elementary classes," said Ediger, also an assistant principal at the high school. "So we don't expect to stay at 2A for more than this year."

Garden City's top three classes totaled 1,388, an increase of 55 from a year ago and the Buffaloes remain the state's fourth largest high school based upon those numbers.

The largest school in Kansas, Wichita East, has 1,584 in its three upper classes. The smallest 6A school is Hutchinson, which has moved up from 5A, with 961 students. Class 5A ranges from 917 to 532 students while 4A has the biggest disparity from 530 to 194. Ulysses and Hugoton remain solidly entrenched in 4A with 314 and 210 students in their top three grades.

Lakin, at 124 is one of the smallest 3A schools with only three districts being smaller. Several Class 2A schools also saw a decrease in their enrollments. Sublette dropped from 119 to 104, Syracuse decreased from 113 to 98 and Wichita County-Leoti slipped from 96 to 94. Stanton County-Johnson had a slight increase from 96 to 99.

Eight area schools are in Class 1A, with Satanta being the largest with 74 students (75 is the top range for 1A). Healy, at 26, is the smallest after having a 31.5 percent drop from a year ago when it had 38 students.

Overall, the 19 schools that comprise The Telegram's printed readership area saw a decrease of 32 students from 3,369 to 3,337, a .01 percentage dip. Healy had the biggest percentage drop while Moscow had the biggest percentage uptick at 16.2 percent (from 37 to 43).

While Garden City remains one of the largest 6A schools, fellow Western Athletic Conference schools also saw an increase in numbers. Dodge City saw a 13 percent increase to 1,342.

Liberal increased its top three class enrollment by 110 students (14.2 percent) to 885. Great Bend at 702 and Hays at 599 are the remaining WAC schools and both saw slight increases from a year ago.