Participation in borough tournaments was a hot topic Monday at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education meeting in Soldotna.
John O’Brien, director of secondary education, proposed a change in the language of the Kenai Peninsula School Activities Association handbook, which caused extensive discussion.
During the discussion, Lynn Hohl, board treasurer, said the language of the revision stated that cross country running, Nordic skiing and track and field teams shall participate in borough meets. She questions changing the word shall to should, saying that she did want to make borough meets required events.
During the school board meeting that evening, board members discussed the language change, which had received public debate during the earlier work session.
While Bill Holt, of Kasilof, moved to approve the changes to the Kenai Peninsula School Activities Association handbook, Hohl moved to amend the revisions.
Board member Crawford said the change of language would defeat the purpose of the change.
“The whole point of the change is that they will participate in borough meets,” she said.
School Board Vice President Liz Downing said she supported the change of language.
“It seems that it’s, from what I have picked up as far as a history of the borough tournaments in this area, most of the teams do come, but to change the wording to ‘should’ rather than ‘shall’ means this is a strong encouragement, and I think that is what we want to do,” she said, adding that there are understandable conditions where some (schools) may not attend.
“I would rather promote strong encouragement for all the teams who attend borough meets and come, for more of educating folks why this is important rather than having it as a directive.”
Board member Tim Navarre said the issue was about school involvement.
“It gives the kids an opportunity to come together,” he said. “You got to have involvement.”
Hohl said she liked the idea of encouraging people to come to the event rather than being heavy handed about forcing them to attend the event.
Several other revisions were proposed at the middle school and high school levels for the KPSAA handbook.
High school changes included tobacco, alcohol and controlled substances policy and proximity changes, adjustments to second, fourth quarter and end of semester sports eligibility, and allowing home school students to participate in team sports.
Other noted changes recommended for middle schools include moving the track season back two weeks for weather concerns, a change of language in the KPSAA handbook to recognize the existence of Middle School ‘B’ teams as well as coach stipends and a change in date of weigh-ins.
After the discussion was heard, the board passed the language revision to the handbook with a five to three vote. The other KPSAA handbook regulations revisions also passed without discussion.
Board members also discussed the Soldotna area schools conversion. In April, the board unanimously approved a reconfiguration of Soldotna’s two high schools into one single high school housing grades 10-12 that would be located at the current Soldotna High School which will occur in August of 2014.
Sean Dusek, assistant superintendent, explained in a work session held earlier in the day that principals gathered much information from site council meetings, PTSA groups, as well as staff and parents on this issue.
“From every source that we have received feedback from, there is overwhelming support to move forward with creating a ninth-grade house located at the current Soldotna Middle School Campus and for the current Soldotna Middle School (grades seven and eight), to be relocated to the Skyview campus,” according to a document Dusek handed out in the work session.
School board member Bill Holt said he worried that separating the ninth-graders would ostracize them.
“It seems like there is stigmatization that happens with ninth-graders,” Holt said. “It sort of signifies to them, in my mind, that they are at some sort of purgatory age ... like we got to keep this close eye on them.”
Sunni Hilts, of Seldovia, disagreed with Holt.
“I think we can do exactly the opposite, I think we can make the ninth-grade house something special,” Hilts said.
During the evening’s board meeting, the Soldotna area configuration was approved by board members.
Members also approved FY13 budget revisions; teacher contracts as well as the early release/late start for six month with the exception of the month of November.
In closing board comments, Crawford commended the members on the scope of decisions made during the evening.
“It is astonishing what we did today,” she said.
Sara J. Hardan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.