Stratford Academy and Tattnall Square, two powerful members of the Georgia Independent School Association, voted Monday to join the Georgia High School Association in 2014.
They will be joined by two other GISA schools from Macon – Mount de Sales and First Presbyterian Day – in the GHSA. First Presbyterian joined in 2010. Mount de Sales voted last month to join in 2014.
“We are grateful to everyone in the Stratford community who provided input into this decision, which was a difficult one,” Stratford head of school Bob Veto said in a press release. “The GISA has been a great home for Stratford’s competition in athletics and other activities, but we look forward to embarking on new challenges as we return to the GHSA.”
Stratford was a member of the GHSA in the 1960s.
About a dozen GISA schools have moved to the GHSA over the past decade, including 2012 football state champion Eagle’s Landing Christian, George Walton Academy and North Cobb Christian. But football powerhouses Tattnall Square and Stratford Academy in many ways will be the most significant. Tattnall has won 11 state titles in football, including GISA’s Class AAA in 2011. Stratford has won eight.
Stratford recently hired as its new football coach Mark Farriba, who led Prince Avenue Christian to the GHSA Class A private school championship game last season.
The migration of GISA schools to GHSA is helping fuel the growth of private schools into Georgia’s smallest classification, Class A. For the 2012 football season, there were 42 public and 32 private schools in Class A.
In 1997, there were only 11 private schools playing football in the smallest class.
One incentive for Stratford and Tatnall Square is travel. There will be more middle Georgia opponents available in the GHSA. By GHSA bylaws, GHSA schools are not allowed to compete against GISA schools. The GHSA considered changing that policy last fall, but the proposal failed to get traction. Once Mount de Sales made the decision in January, Tattnall and Stratford had become more isolated geographically.