TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW)-It was a move that longtime highland park basketball coach Ken Darting thought was a possibility he wished wouldn't happen. With Highland Parks enrollment dropping over the past few years, they finally reached a number below 734 which is the class 5A minimum. That caused the Kansas State Athletics Association to drop the Scots down a class in all sports but football.
Coach Darting said, "When it came out today the school was buzzing and the kids were disappointed like me. I definitely would love to stay in 5A and its not better or worse. I don't say that in any disrespect to 4A.
After over 20 years and multiple championships in 5A, the switch makes Highland Park the largest school in 5A but the move doesn't exactly mean more wins. Darting says, "With a few 5A schools coming down recently and programs like Ottawa and strong schools like Hayden and Holton, 4A has gotten better.
By comparison Highland Park has 409 more students than Holton, 241 more than Hayden and 93 more than Ottawa.
Hayben High School boys basketball coach Ted Schuler, sees the addition of Highland Park to 4A as a move that futher solidifies the class as perhaps the states toughest.
Coach Schuler said, "We have already added Mcphearson of and Ottawa, so i think the addition of Highland Park just makes class 4-A the toughest from top to bottom, in my opinion."
It's not just Highland Park USD501 spokesman Ron Harbaugh says district enrollment was down 175 students this year. He says a special department is monitoring reasons why students have left the district. He also hopes new curriculum offered at Highland Park will boost its numbers.