Eligibility study ordered

April 22, 2004, midnight | By Samir Paul | 16 years, 7 months ago

Superintendent will examine Blair PTSA's proposal

The Board of Education directed Superintendent of Schools Jerry Weast on April 15 to review the Blair PTSA's proposal to implement a pilot program that would serve as an alternative to the current extracurricular eligibility policy.

The proposal was unanimously passed by the Blair PTSA last February and seeks to revise the eligibility policy for all Downcounty Consortium (DCC) freshmen. If the Board of Education (BOE) approves the plan, failing students would be placed on provisional eligibility status for the marking period after being declared ineligible. During this time, a student would be granted provisional eligibility and would be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities if he or she agreed to a variety of academic support measures, including study hall and one-on-one tutoring.

The BOE acknowledged research showing that extracurricular activities bolster academic performance and called on Weast to look into the feasibility of the pilot at selected school clusters.

As a result of the directive, Weast will form a task force made up of students, parents and teachers to construct an implementation timeline, to examine cost implementations and cost-neutral solutions and to determine if the majority of target communities supports the pilot. The task force will report back with an official recommendation to the BOE Policy Committee by July 2005.

The Blair PTSA's proposal comes as a response to the current extracurricular eligibility policy, which dictates that students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average with no more than one "E" in the previous marking period in order to participate in extracurricular activities.

Should Weast eventually call for an implementation of Blair's pilot that does not include extra funding, the plan may not be as successful, said proposal co-author Ray Scannell. While such established activities as athletic teams may already have sufficient resources to effectively implement the pilot, he said, other activities would need additional funding in order to allow teacher sponsors and counselors to identify students' problems and devise plans to remediate them.

Scannell hopes that the task force will recommend a fully-funded pilot. "Hopefully, the Superintendent's office, as they study this, will realize that, as with many things in the educational system, the more resources that are available, the more you are able to implement change on a broader scale."

The proposal met with unanimous agreement at an April 14 DCC meeting during which it was presented to other schools. "I was very encouraged that the DCC coordinators were very supportive," said PTSA Co-President Fran Rothstein. The DCC coordinators called the BOE to express their support for the proposal.

Samir Paul. <b>Samir Paul</b>, a Magnet senior, spent the better part of his junior year at Blair brooding over everyone's favorite high-school publication and wooing Room 165's menopausal printer. He prides himself in being <i>THE</i> largest member of Blair Cross Country and looks forward to one more … More »

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