Changes in the Alaska Schools Activity Association handbook will mean adjustments in eligibility requirements for Kenai Peninsula high school students, especially athletes.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough District board of education will likely will support the state changes at its meeting Monday. If it does not, peninsula high school students will miss out on competing at the state level.
Superintendent Donna Peterson said the changes in elevated academic eligibility requirements for area students will be met with questions from parents.
"When you take the philosophy of school first, there will be some friction," Peterson said.
Sammy Crawford, school board president, said the state rules make it clear that education is more important than athletics.
"It's interesting because there are statistics that show very, very few of high school athletes make it to the professional level," she said. "Everyone needs a solid education, but there are parents who think their kid will be the one who makes it."
The state changes also address school transferring, a problem more apparent in Anchorage but applicable to the peninsula, as well.
"There are kids transferring to play basketball at Soldotna High because the Skyview coach is retiring," Crawford said.
ASAA Executive Director Gary Matthews said the eligibility requirements changed from a passing D grade to a C average for eligibility and added one more course per year to the requirements. The current ASAA requirement is four classes per year.
Another change would be requiring students to take eight consecutive semesters of classes so no student could take a semester off to remain in school to compete for a fifth year.
"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.
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.
The ASAA changes are as follows:
One-time summer transfer without a move of a parent:
Students who move without their parents or guardians have to wait for 18 school weeks before becoming eligible for activities. This is to discourage transfers for the purpose of gaining a competitive advantage.
Maximum participation rule:
Beginning with the 2006-07 school year, students cannot have more than eight consecutive semesters of eligibility.
All freshman, sophomores and juniors must be enrolled in a minimum of five semester units of credit or the equivalent to be eligible. Seniors who are on track to graduate and who have passed all parts of the High School Graduation Qualifying Exam must take at least four semester units of credits or the equivalent to be eligible. All students must maintain at least an overall 2.0 GPA.
Starting this fall, a student who is expelled from one school will not be eligible to participate in interscholastic sports and activities at another school during the duration of the expulsion.
Semester credit rule:
Beginning with the second semester of the 2005-06 school year:
Freshmen, sophomores and juniors must have passed at least five semester units of credit or the equivalent during the previous semester and maintained an overall 2.0 GPA during the previous semester. All seniors must have maintained a 2.0 GPA during the previous semester.
For a complete description of the requirements, visit www.asaa.org.
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