Schools: GPA requirement talks to continue

KINGMAN - The Kingman Unified School District will take more time to nail down a grade point average required for students to play sports or participate in after-school clubs.

Board member Laurie Voss Barthlow also said it was unlikely that the board would implement a new eligibility policy this far into the school year.

"I think we have some time on this. This would be pretty tough to do mid-year, but I do think we should have some policy in place," she said.

Board member Bruce Ricca brought up the idea of raising the grade point average cutoff for students during a school board meeting in October. He wanted students to learn the importance of getting a good education.

The board created the Student Eligibility for Extra Curricular Activities Committee in October to look into the district's current policy. The committee consists of the athletic directors of each school, principals from each school and a couple of school board members. The committee has met twice.

District Superintendent Roger Jacks, who is also part of the committee, said a lot of the discussion centered on if students should have to meet a certain grade point average in the off-season as well as while they were playing their particular sport.

"A requirement that they have to meet just to go out for sports," he said.

For example, a football player would have to meet a certain grade point average in the spring in order to play in the fall, Jacks said. Or a basketball player would have to meet a certain grade point average in the fall in order to play in the winter.

What exactly that grade point average would be is still up in the air, he said. The committee was unable to reach a consensus on whether the eligibility level should be set at a 2.0, or "C" average, or a 1.5 - "D" average. Three out of the five committee members wanted to stay with the existing 1.0 grade point average and the remaining two wanted to increase it to at least 1.5.

Jacks recommended starting off with a 1.5 grade point average and gradually increasing it to a 2.0.

He also said committee members were able to agree that the district needs a consistent policy for all schools.

Currently, most of the schools have a 1.0 grade point eligibility, or a "D," cutoff for students involved in after school activities and sports. Black Mountain Elementary requires students to have at least a 2.0 grade point average, or a "C," in order to play. Students' grades are checked on a weekly basis.

The committee also thought a one-week warning, during which students would be allowed to practice but not play, was a good idea, Jacks said. It would also allow students to bring up their grades.

Ricca agreed with Jacks' assessment of the committee meeting and asked the board for more time.

"I can't say I went along with everything. I'm still shooting for a C average," Ricca said. "The idea that you can pass and get a diploma with a D is just not right."

"The first thing people look at when they're moving into a new community is the schools," he said, "and we have a couple of schools with Ds out there."

This year, the district scored a C on the Arizona Instrument Measurement Standards assessment. The grade is determined by how well the district's students' score on the AIMS test and how much they have improved over the years.

Each school receives an AIMS letter grade as well. This year Hualapai Elementary scored a B, Manzanita Elementary scored an A, Black Mountain Elementary got a B, Mt. Tipton received a D and La Senita, Cerbat and Palo Christi Elementary earned Cs.

Events at some of the schools last year explain some of the lower grades. The district closed Palo Christi for repairs after the school year ended, some teachers left and others were replaced, and La Senita was reduced to a day care and alternative school this year.

At the middle school level, both White Cliffs and Kingman middle schools received Ds.

Kingman High School received a C and Lee Williams was not graded because it had just opened.

"I want our district to be a leader, not a follower," Ricca said. "We need to get back to basics and step things up. This is nothing that needs to be rushed into."

Board President Charles Lucero asked why the committee didn't include any coaches or students.

Jacks said the original idea was that the athletic directors and principals would bring the committee's suggestions to the coaches and students and then bring their opinions back to the committee.

However, students and coaches could certainly be added to the committee, he said.