Board considers eligibility changes

Posted: Sunday, April 17, 2005

A final decision for new eligibility requirements for high school students involved in school activities will be decided next month.

When those changes will take effect, however, is still in question.

The Alaska School Activities Association board will meet May 1 and 2 to decide on those changes, said ASAA Executive Director Gary Matthews. He said adjustments likely will be in a change from a passing grade to a C average for eligibility and adding one more course per year to the requirements. The current ASAA requirement is four classes per year.

Another change would be an eight consecutive semester limit where no student could take a semester off to remain in school to compete for a fifth year.

"Once a student enters ninth grade, the clock starts ticking," Matthews said.

Kenai Peninsula Borough School Board President Sammy Crawford said the board will discuss passing a resolution that would support the ASAA changes.

"The problem is that seniors are not taking all the classes they can, and it's high time we focus on making sure kids come out of high school knowing how to read and write and do math. This would ensure they take at least five classes every year," Crawford said.

She added that one problem with the requirement is that some smaller schools do not offer any more than four classes.

To raise the state standards would mean adjustments for schools, too.

"We have some seniors who look at the senior year as a fun and kick-back year, where it should be a year of more rigor. Many students have been taking advantage of the rules. Students are not in school to play sports. They are there for academics first," Matthews said.

Matthews said since some schools would need a phase-in year, the board could make the new regulations effective later than expected.

"Local, state and federal expectations have been climbing higher, and these adjustments should match those changes. The board will act on the bylaw change and that means they have to go through a lengthy process," he said.

Crawford said that raising academic eligibility would ensure fairness.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District has a three-week eligibility check, where kids have the chance to raise a grade if it is failing. One change would be to have a check once a semester #&151; if the grade is failing, the student is out of activities.

The school board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the Borough Building in Soldotna.

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