A minor adjustment to Orchard Park Central School District’s eligibility policy for participating in extracurricular activities prompted a School Board member to call for strengthening the policy Tuesday night.
The policy does not have a minimum grade-point average or class average that students must achieve, but instead relies on teachers to monitor whether a student is showing “less than acceptable academic performance.”
If that’s the case, and if the teacher is thinking of holding the student academically ineligible, a warning must be given to the student and his or her parents one week before any action is taken. The teacher also must talk with the adviser or coach.
“The student should be made to realize the consequences to self, team or club for not meeting classroom performance standards,” the policy states. “The expectation will be that significant improvement in performance will be demonstrated immediately by the student.”
Board member Sean Wittmann is looking for something stronger.
“I wanted it to be more specific, and a specific cutoff, I think, is important,” he said after Tuesday’s board meeting.
Wittmann voted against the minor change in the policy, which would have the athletic director draw up a list of athletes and the sports they participate in, rather than the coaches, and distribute it to teachers.
“In theory, a teacher would have to look at several different rosters during a sports season,” said Lisa Krueger, assistant superintendent for curriculum. “Now, they’ll reference one roster and can more easily determine if a student is participating in a sport.”
But the district does not have a similar uniform system for keeping track of students in clubs and other activities.
“They accept students into the clubs and activity throughout the year. That’s certainly something that’s more challenging,” Krueger said.
The board’s Curriculum and Policy Committee discussed the policy and recommended the change to a single roster to help improve communication.
Wittmann said he understands that the policy leaves room to address academic performance for a high performing student who may drop his average from 95 to 80.
“That’s an issue,” he said, but he added, “I don’t think that creating a policy without a minimum standard is extremely useful.”
He said he is curious how many students put sports before their academics.
Krueger said not many students have been pulled out of a sport or club because they were ineligible academically.
“Often with that first notification, with that warning, that’s enough to change the student’s behavior,” she said.
Board Vice President Natalie Schaffer said the board plans to have the athletic director report later in the school year on how the policy is working.
“We are going to be following up,” she said.