Grade policy reviewed for Kingman school athletics

KINGMAN -While some members of the Kingman Unified School District Extra-curricular Eligibility Committee would like to raise the grade point average to 2.0, or a "C," for athletic eligibility, it most likely will remain 1.0 or increase slightly to a 1.5, both a "D."

Bruce Ricca, committee chairman and a member of the KUSD Governing Board, had pushed for a 2.0 grade point average at an Oct. 15 committee meeting to encourage students to work harder for the privilege to play sports.

Ricca said he wanted students to understand that education is more important than sports, and he also hoped parents would get more involved with their children.

"But a 2.0 average is hard to argue for when students can get a diploma with D's," said Ricca. "I don't agree with that. We can make this all about sports or about academics. I think the bar needs to be raised for kids and the message sent home to their parents so they know what's going on."

Patrick Carey, principal at Kingman High School, supported a 1.5 grade point average. Carey said student athletes need to work together to make sure everyone can pass their required subjects so they can play on the team.

"These kids are students first and athletes second," said Carey. "I know that some come to school for sports and that's what keeps them here. But I tell them that whether they like it or not, they've been given an increased responsibility and how they carry themselves has a lot to do with the climate on campus. I've seen these kids go the extra step to be that player in the athletic venue."

Other administrators wanted to stay with the current 1.0 grade point average, noting students are struggling with changes in school, especially the new Arizona Common Core Standards curriculum, which took place this fall.

Also, according to administrators, some of the schools' coaches oppose the increase because it will cut players from their teams and make them ineligible for games.

The committee will be seeking guidance from the Kingman Unified School District Governing Board next week on the grade point average it would like students to meet to be eligible for sports and other extra-curricular activities.

The committee, which formed in October, met Monday to continue hashing out details of a consistent policy for student participants in sports, clubs and other activities that take place beyond school hours.

The committee will present its findings during the Board meeting at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the KUSD administration office, 3033 MacDonald Ave.

The committee, which is composed of the principals of the district's high schools and middle schools, agreed to recommend that all students involved in athletic activities must have grades higher than an "F" during the prior nine weeks before the sports season begins. If they fail to meet that standard, they must sit out the first week of games.

Also, they will receive a warning week throughout the sports season if their grades fall to an "F" at the high school or middle school level, except at Black Mountain Middle School, which requires a "C" grade or higher. The committee also agreed to recommend that excused absences have no effect on a student's grades.

While a student's grade point average matters, eligibility mostly rests on week-to-week grade checks.

Currently at Kingman High School and Lee Williams High School, student-athlete grades are checked on Thursdays, and if the student has an "F" in any class, he or she is placed on warning status. The student is eligible to practice and participate in athletic competitions the following week.

On the subsequent Thursday, another eligibility check is done and if the student is still failing, he or she can practice the next week but is not allowed to play for one week.

At Kingman Middle School and White Cliffs Middle School, the story is a little different. Athletes must be passing all classes to play. Grades are checked on Fridays at White Cliffs and Sundays at Kingman Middle School. If the student has an "F" in any class, the athlete is ineligible to compete the next week, but may continue to practice.

Black Mountain Middle School requires that athletes pass all classes with a "C" to play, and grades are checked on Sundays. If the student has a "D" or "F" in any class, the athlete is placed on warning status for the week. If the athlete has less than a "C" when grades are checked the next Sunday, the student cannot compete, but if the grade is a "D," the athlete can practice. Students with an "F" cannot practice or play.