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GHSA reclassification: Dalton High wins appeal to move to 4A, local landscape appears set

Nov. 9—Dalton High School won its appeal with the Georgia High School Association's Reclassification Committee on Thursday to move down from Class 5A to Class 4A in the next round of GHSA reclassification, which starts with the 2024-25 school year.

Dalton athletics director Ryan Richards confirmed that Dalton won the appeal on Thursday, noting that the move would help with travel expenses. Minutes from the meeting show the Dalton appeal passed 16-0-1 by the committee. Steven Craft, the chief of student services and activities for Dalton Public Schools, is on the committee and abstained from voting.

Dalton had been slated for Class 5A in the new, reshaped GHSA classification system, which no longer includes a Class 7A.

Dalton is currently in Class 5A, but the removal of 7A shook up the top of the GHSA classification system, sending many schools that are currently in 7A into 6A and 5A.

Dalton would have had to play in a region consisting of mostly Atlanta-area competition had it stayed in 5A, but, with the appeal win, Dalton will be in a Class 4A region alongside Southeast Whitfield, Cartersville, Cass and a few other, closer schools.

Initial proposed regions were also released on Thursday but are not yet finalized, with an appeals process slated for regions now that classifications are finalized.

With Dalton's appeal out of the way, the landscape for classifications for local schools appears to be set. The appeals process on Thursday was the final step before classifications were set. The GHSA announced preliminary breakdowns of the classifications last week and allowed schools the chance to choose to play up a classification or appeal to move down.

No other local schools appealed to move up or down.

For the 2024-25 school years, Dalton and Southeast Whitfield will play in Class 4A and likely share Region 7-4A; Northwest Whitfield will be in Class 3A and are slated for Region 7-3A; Coahulla Creek, Murray County and North Murray will be in Class 2A and are set to share Region 7-2A; and The Dalton Academy and Christian Heritage will compete in Class A Division I in Region 7-A DI.

Christian Heritage will compete for separate, private school-only state championships for private schools in Class A through 3A. The separation of state championships for private schools and public schools in smaller classifications was the other big change in this round of reclassification. Private schools in 4A, 5A and 6A will compete for the same championships as their public school counterparts.

Dalton and Southeast Whitfield will share a classification, and region, for the first time since both were in Class 4A in 2013. Southeast and Dalton had shared a classification from 1980 to 2007 and 2010 to 2013.

With Northwest Whitfield slated for Class 3A, the Bruins and Raiders will play in separate classifications for the first time since 2011. The two schools have been paired in a classification and region for most of their histories, save for a few stretches.

Coahulla Creek, Murray County and North Murray will be paired in Region 7-2A. Coahulla has been a 3A school since the school's founding, but the three schools shared a region in 3A for several years before Murray and North Murray moved to 2A in the most recent round of reclassification.

The Dalton Academy and Christian Heritage will share a region in Class A DI — Dalton Academy is currently in A DI while Christian Heritage is in A D2 — but Christian Heritage will take part in the A-3A Private playoffs, while Dalton Academy will compete for the postseason in Class A DI.

Proposed regions:

7-4A — Dalton, Southeast Whitfield, Allatoona, Cartersville, Cass, Cedartown, Hiram, Woodland

7-3A — Adairsville, Calhoun, Heritage, LaFayette, Northwest Whitfield, Ridgeland

7-2A — Coahulla Creek, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, Murray County, North Murray, Ringgold, Rockmart, Sonoraville

7-A DI — Chattooga, Christian Heritage, Dade County, Dalton Academy, Fannin County, Gordon Central, Gordon Lee