CLEARFIELD – The Clearfield school board wants the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) to level the “playing field” in high school sports playoffs.
On Monday night, the board approved a resolution to ask the PIAA to examine its rules with regards to boundary versus non-boundary schools.
According to Superintendent Terry Struble non-boundary schools – parochial, charter, etc. – don’t have any residency requirements for their students.
Therefore, he said their sports rosters are built around elite athletes from eight or nine school districts. Sometimes he said they come from out of state in pursuit of opportunities and exposure.
Meanwhile Struble said boundary schools, such as Clearfield, have smaller rosters and the athletes come from one of eight municipalities that make up the school district.
Numerous school districts across the state, he said, favor having the PIAA level the playing field by separating boundary and non-boundary schools in the playoffs.
For example, Struble said the Clearfield football team went up against a tough Cathedral Prep team Saturday. Currently in the Class 4A playoffs, five of the eight teams are non-boundary schools.
“Only three public schools are left in that classification,” he said. “… We want students to have a fair shot in competition.” Board President Larry Putt emphasized that “it’s just not football.”
“It’s affecting all sports,” Putt said. “It’s not a level playing field, believe me. I’ve been to numerous playoff games, and public schools are having a tough time.”
To that, Struble noted that 77 percent of PIAA boys’ basketball championships have been won by non-boundary schools over the past three years.
He said nowadays parents send their student-athletes to these non-boundary schools for the opportunities that can’t be gained at a boundary school.
“But if you want to play on a Clearfield high school sports team, you have to live in the district … Your parents have to buy a house, rent an apartment, have residency here.”