Edgar looks at tougher policy
The Edgar Board of Education last week Wednesday agreed to revisit its co-curricular code after school board member Gary Lewis complained that it is too lax.
In a routine annual review of the policy, Lewis said the school failed to swiftly bench an athlete or club member who has a failing grade, making the code ineffective.
“It’s getting more and more lax all of the time,” fumed Lewis. “When I was in high school, you had to have a C to play any sport. Some people say that sports is the only reason their children are in school. If that’s the case, maybe they shouldn’t be in school. I’m sorry. We are here to learn, not to make athletes” out of students.
The current policy says a student is ineligible to participate in sports or a long list of clubs and other student activities, including Prom and Homecoming, if he or she fails one of more courses. The penalty is to not participate for 15 days after grades are entered and final.
Lewis said it was pointless to wait until grades were recorded to punish students. He said athletes grades should be scoured weekly for failing marks.
“Our whole society is based on the idea you can’t ruin someone’s life because they made a mistake,” said Lewis. “But when you make a mistake, you have to pay the price.”
Lewis said Edgar students have not been treated harshly enough when they fall short of the code. “I would have kicked his butt,” said the school board member about a student he knows that allegedly did not meet academic standards for playing sports.
Board members did not argue with Lewis over the need to tighten up the code, but struggled how to do so practically.
Board president Bill Dittman said it was unworkable to track student grades each week, but he could be persuaded to enforce the code against students who fail on their mid-quarter progress report grades and not wait, as happens currently, until quarter grades are finalized.
School board members said they were unsure how to apply sanctions equally across sports and all extra-curricular activities. School principal Tom McCarty and district administrator Dr. Cari Guden were equally unsure.
It was easy to make a failing football player sit out two football games, they said, but less straightforward to have a student not perform in the high school fall play because of a failing grade early in the school year.
Lewis himself did not propose any specific plan to be implemented, but only said the current system failed to have struggling students prioritize school work over sports.
“We let things slide and the kids go to hell,” he said.
In other business:
_ Board members granted library specialist Leslie Swan a one-year unpaid leave because of concerns over COVID-19, but, following comments by board member Gary Lewis, agreed to revisit the policy over leaves.
Lewis complained the district should not be obligated to rehire a staff person after a one-year leave and that it was unfair to let go the person who agrees to fill in for that person. He said the district would have problems if three or four other staff members also wanted one-year leaves due to COVID-19.
The district policy does not guarantee a job to any staff who takes an unpaid leave. It only says the employee may be hired back if there is an opening.
Elementary school principal Lisa Witt said the district benefitted several years back agreeing to grant one-year leaves to her school’s top teachers as an alternative to having the staff members resign.
Administrator Guden said the school board had the power both to approve and disapprove unpaid leaves. “We might have to say no,” she said.
_ Principal McCarty said that recent orientation half-day sessions for ninth and sixth graders were successful. “Overall, the kids were great and things went really well,” he said.
He briefed school board members on fall sports procedures during the COVID- 19 pandemic. He said spectators in the Marawood Conference would be limited depending on the size of gyms and that visiting teams would not be allowed to use locker rooms. Athletes will be dressed for games on school buses, he said. Having an extra locker room, he noted, would allow home teams to space out students for social distancing.
Board member Corey Mueller said he did not want to see an outbreak of COVID-19 in Edgar High Schools sports jeopardize classroom activity. “I hope we are not going too far” with sports, he said. “Consider the impact. The classroom comes first.”
_ Board members accepted the resignation of Kelly Kramer as a middle school math teacher. The board hired Amy Young as her replacement.
_ Board members agreed to increase teacher Amanda Albrecht’s contract from 89 percent to full-time for the 2020-21 school year and to hire Asha Kavajecz as a 4K intern. This year’s incoming 4K class has 55 students which will break out into sections of 28 and 27 students.
_ Principal McCarty told board members about changes to a high school student handbook. The new handbook takes a tougher stance on plagiarism and cheating, declares that e-cigarette use will be reported to police, makes sure only district students can take driver’s education, allows backpacks to be used to avoid locker use during the pandemic, declares face masks acceptable under the school dress code and moves resource period to the end of the school day.
_ It was announced Aaron Niemann and Sam Brown have been hired as Edgar special education teachers.
_ Board members approved Mandy Schnelle as a volunteer cross country coach.