Perry athletics ready to consider a new home

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Perry is struggling to compete in the Raccoon River Conference in most sports. Is it time to look at other options?

The numbers are stark. And they tell a story.

Perry is outmatched when it comes to competing for victories in the Raccoon River Conference.

That will be the message PHS Principal Dan Marburger and Activities Director Scott Pierce will deliver Monday to the Perry School Board during their monthly meeting. They will be seeking official district permission to apply for admission to the Heart of Iowa Conference.

The HOIAC is currently comprised of Greene County, Nevada, PCM, Roland-Story, Saydel, South Hamilton, and West Marshall. Former league schools Gilbert and North Polk joined the Raccoon River Conference as full-fledged members in August. Perry will be seeking to leave the RRC after many decades of interaction with most of the current schools in the league.

If permission is granted to seek entrance to the HOIAC Perry would be making official presentations to the member schools. Five or more positive votes are required to approve the admission of a new team.

The reasons for Perry seeking are limited, but they carry great impact. In short, the Bluejay and Jayette athletic programs are no longer are to compete, on a level or consistent basis, with the other RRC schools.

There are, of course, exceptions to the rule, but they are just that — exceptions, and the raw numbers prove it.

Before entering the arguments over why this has happened, what should be done about it and more, it is important to review the numbers because they do not lie, and they do not paint a picture favorable for Perry.

What follows are the combined RRC results from volleyball the past six seasons (including the one just concluded) and the past five seasons of boys/girls basketball, softball and baseball. The boys and girls soccer team records are from the past four years because no season was held this spring.

Perry volleyball is (0-44), girls basketball (14-52), boys basketball (19-50), softball (14-49), baseball (18-44), girls soccer (18-10) and boys soccer (24-4).

Volleyball, like all the other sports, does not suffer from lack of spirit. The very fact that players are so willing to expend time and energy in the face of such stiff challenges is a testament to their devotion. But the numbers remain the numbers, and they show the Jayettes have not won in the RRC since Oct. 27, 2014 and have not won on the road in the conference since sweeping Winterset Oct. 2, 2012.

Football, which plays in a district format, has also struggled mightily, with four winless seasons in the last six (including 0-9 in 2020) for a total record of 6-48. Perry has been outscored, 1,987-503, an average of score of 37-9.

Perry fares much better when competing outside of the RRC. The records for each sport away from the RRC are: volleyball (48-114), girls basketball (23-28), boys basketball (36-76), softball (55-38), baseball (11-36), girls soccer (20-19) and boys soccer (29-23).

Classification is based on Basic Educational Data System (BEDS) numbers. The total for each school represents the enrollment, in grades 9-11, for the prior year. The numbers appearing in this article are the official IHSAA/IGHSAU totals for 2020-2021 classification, and thus the 9-11 student numbers from 2019-2020.

BEDS numbers are just that — enrollment numbers. An argument has recently been advanced across the state that the economic status of the students themselves should be taken into consideration when classification is decided, with the five Des Moines public high schools leading the charge.

Four states currently factor into their classification a formula based, in part, on the percentage of students who receive free or reduced lunches.

Minnesota, Ohio and Oregon all have such plans in place, as does Washington. In the latter, if a school has a free/reduced lunch rate 10% or higher above the state average (in this case, 43% percent), it may opt to drop down one class.

Washington has four A classes and two, smaller B classes. To protect the two smallest classes from suddenly being swamped with swelling numbers, the state has opted to cap the percentage of schools able to lower their classification.

Perry, with 73.4% of students in the program, is one of the five poorest districts in the state — using the Washington formula — and would easily drop one class under a program similar to that in place in Washington.

Tomorrow: How Perry compares to RRC schools in free/reduced lunch numbers and where PHS would rank among current HOIAC schools.

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