By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
Eligibility guidelines for extra-curriculars and the tardy policy at Chase County Schools both got the once-over by school board members at their Feb. 12 meeting.
The items appeared on the agenda’s “discussion” section, so no action was taken, but it appears a closer look at both areas may be coming.
Supt. Brad Schoeppey said the school’s current policy on eligibility for activities is “a very loose policy,” in his opinion.
Now, for a student to be ineligible for athletics and other extra-curriculars, they must have two “F” grades for two weeks in a row.
“Participating in all these activities is a privilege not a right, and with privilege comes some responsibility” for the academic side, Schoeppey said.
“Our focus should be on academics,” he said.
Noting he sees the strong importance of athletics and activities as part of a student’s education, Schoeppey said the No. 1 priority should be academics.
If he had his way, he’d like to see a “no pass, no play” policy instead.
He realizes that’s a big jump from the policy CCS has now, but noted a student can carry an “F” all year in a class and still participate.
“I’m concerned that we don’t set a higher standard for kids to participate.”
Board member Dan Reeves agreed, saying academics need to be a priority.
Elementary teacher Linda Lakey said, sometimes, a student can flunk the first test of a quarter and that’s the only grade entered in the grade book that week. She didn’t think it was fair to make the student sit out for an “F” in one subject, which could turn into an “A” later.
Board member Gregg Smith said some teachers won’t allow students to remedy an “F” with other makeup work. Sometimes, he said, teachers won’t bend at all.
Some caution is warranted, Smith said.
Activities Director Troy Hauxwell said a previous school at which he was employed gave some grace period at the start of the quarter, but added, “Usually where the bar is set kids will meet it.”
However, there were also cases where the teacher wasn’t doing his/her job of recording grades in a timely manner, Hauxwell said.
In some cases, he noted student/athletes started shying away from taking the harder classes for fear of not being eligible if their grades weren’t up to par.
Board member Sheila Stromberger said it was a good idea to look at it, and thought current policy is below the school’s expectations.
She noted, too, the majority of CCS students who would be ineligible with the change don’t participate in extra-curriculars anyway.
“The ones who are participating for the most part, keep their grades up,” she said.
Hauxwell and Stromberger both said a bigger concern are kids who don’t do anything and have five F’s with no consequences.
With the new Advisory Period that is part of the school day now, grades are supposed to be checked twice weekly to help students know where they stand, she said.
Several noted that some CCS coaches and activity sponsors have their own academic expectations in addition to school policy.
Student board member Spencer Hartman noted, in football, if a player was on the down list with a “D,” they were required to be in Coach Lenners’ room for study hall.
Schoeppey said in Texas, where the whole state went to a “no pass, no play” requirement, there was a big effect the first year, but by the second, participation levels were back to where they had been.
“I think there’s a way to find a happy medium,” Stromberger said.
Schoeppey, who’s in his first year at CCS, also wanted to gauge the board’s opinion on the CCS tardy policy, which he said seems ineffective.
“We have some kids with lots and lots of tardies,” he said.
Current policy states that three tardies in one class will equal an absence in that class. After seven absences, an ”F” is to be recorded for that class, or the student and parents can meet with a school committee to ask them to be excused.
It was noted one student last year had 99 tardies, but not a lot of absences.
Another student just this month had four tardies in one day.
“It’s disruptive,” said Stromberger.
Most of the tardies on the junior high and high school level come from students walking into class late. Schoeppey said he was in the halls recently and spotted about 15 students still in the halls after the tardy bell rang.
Many felt it has to start with the teachers and enforcing the tardy policy.
There was support for the junior high and high school to align their tardy and attendance policies, which are now different.
Concerning elementary students, after the third morning tardy, they have to report at 7:30 a.m.
At times, parents get mad about having to bring their child early, but it’s likely their fault the youngster was late, one board member said.
At the high school level, a parent can call in an excuse for the tardy or absence, and it’s excused.
Doctor visits that caused an absence or a note from the doctor do not count toward a student’s absence.
A concern was with those students who have a lot of absences but still are carrying all “A” grades.
“This doesn’t teach you any life lessons just because you are an A student,” board member Willy O’Neil said.
Some suggested possibly an attendance report listed with the letter grade on report cards.
Board member Karl Meeske, comparing it to a job situation, said it’s likely that an employee who shows up late to work 22 times probably won’t have the job very long.
It appeared the policy will get further review by the board.
More school board business
- A committee will be formed to study the possibility of making community service hours a requirement for CCS graduation and to set some guidelines. Forty hours, or 10 each year of high school, was discussed as the level of community service. Supt. Schoeppey said this concept is not unusual in many high schools and colleges, as well. His goal in suggesting it was to help students “give back to the community” which gives much to the school.
- This summer, gym floors in both the Longhorn and Shorthorn gyms will be stripped, sanded down, resurfaced and have lines and markings repainted. The board accepted the low bid from Hart Floors of Doniphan, Neb., for $30,402. Other bidders were Hardwood Floors of Sidney for $31,250 and Wyoming Wood Floors for $33,271. Now that CCS is a K-12 system, colors in the Shorthorn gym will be changed to orange and black like the high school. There was some discussion about an updated Longhorn logo, but no firm decision made.
- Board members will begin utilizing an “E-meeting” format in the future based on last week’s discussion. Supt. Schoeppey presented information on the Nebraska School Board Association program, whose goal is to eliminate paper and have all information on a web-based system. It would require board members to have laptops at meetings, and will cost $2,000 for the initial year, and $1,000 each year after. Some concern was expressed about the cost, noting that programs such as Google Docs could be used instead.
- In his student board member report, Spencer Hartman discussed issues with potholes in the east parking lot, lack of hot water in the gym showers and some lighting issues in the auditorium. On the positive side, he said the Student Council sponsored a successful dance recently with 65 attending and the National Honor Society is now providing K-12 tutoring services on request Wednesdays after school. He and board members also discussed a survey on one-to-one laptop use in the high school.
- Elementary Principal Pat Lane said the school now has Smart Boards in all K-4 classrooms, and each grade level also has an I-Pad. He reported the PTO has raised $2,500 from concession sales at junior high events, some of which will be used possibly for a Family Night in April, sponsoring a movie and hosting a dinner for the Young Americans visit next week.
- Starting board meetings at the same time year-round came up last month, and Supt. Schoeppey wanted some direction. Now, the board meets at 5 p.m. during the school year and 6 p.m. in summer. Noting the teachers prefer a 5 p.m. meeting time during the school year, the board decided to leave the schedule as is.