July 11, 2013

New Town schools to tighten eligibility

New Town schools to tighten eligibility
By Jerry W. Kram

Athletes and other students involved in extracurricular activities will have to keep closer tabs on their absences and missed classes with a new policy under consideration by the New Town School Board that will be voted on at the board’s August meeting.
Currently, students who have missed a class 10 times in one semester are considered to be failing that class. Students who are failing more than one class are not eligible to compete in extracurricular school events like volleyball, football or basketball. However, the current policy states that a student’s missed classes will only be totaled up at the end of the semester. Superintendent Marc Bluestone said that this resulted in some student-athletes having to make up as many as 20 missed classes at the end of the first semester in December while still competing in fall sports.
“It is going to be a change for some of our students who, for example, are habitually late for first hour,” Bluestone said. “They are going to be held to a higher standard. The minute they hit 10 absences they will be ineligible in that class until they buy back some hours after school.”
The new policy will make a student ineligible for extracurricular activities the week they accumulate their tenth absence or tardy. Ineligibility will not only mean that athletes cannot play in games, but they will also be prohibited from participating in or even watching practices.
Bluestone said New Town High School bends over backwards to help students maintain a their eligibility. Students who miss a class have an opportunity to “buy back” the missed hours by attending tutoring sessions several times a week after school and on Saturdays. Bluestone said the problem comes from some students accumulating many absences and not making them up until the end of the semester.
“We’ve had some students in fall sports accumulate 22 or 23 classes that they have to make up,” Bluestone said. “They don’t worry about it until it starts to get close to basketball season and then they rush and try to make up a dozen or so missed classes in a week or two.”

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