by Ralph Heymsfeld
A Lake Region Union High School student who was cut from the girls' junior varsity soccer team because of poor grades last year, will be allowed to play after all.
The LRUHS Hoard on Thursday voted to slow the school's transition to the new co-curricular eligibility requirements which barred her from the team.
Coach Larry Kipp argued passionately that the student, who was never named, was treated unfairly. "She's a good kid that brings much to our team," he said.
Most students were unaware of the policy changes approved last May, and the student in question says she did not know her eligibility for fall sports was in jeopardy, Kipp told the board.
"I don't remember getting a notice either," he noted, adding that he would have tried to help her had he known.
The student attended four weeks of practice, played in one scrimmage and one game before being told she was ineligible to be on the team, Kipp said.
"We could have done a better job communicating with parents, students and coaches," principal John Castle agreed. He told the board he stands by the policy but does have concerns about fairness.
Ironically, the new requirements were designed in part to help keep students eligible for co-curricular activities. The policy created a probationary period for students receiving a single F grade and during that probationary period students work with teachers and have biweekly reviews.
However, the policy also makes spring semester grades carry forward into the following year, bridging a gap that many board members and administrators said was sending the wrong message to students.
The board voted to begin the implementation of the new requirements with the current 1997-1998 school year, and not apply those requirements to student grades from the spring semester of 1997.
In other business, a group of parents and students spoke to the board in support of the school's gymnastics program. Faith Landry and Heather McElroy read a letter from present and prospective gymnastic team members. "Every girl leaves the program with more confidence than she ever felt possible," the letter said.
Castle told the board that he at one point considered recommending the program be suspended, but after hearing and seeing the support he had changed his mind.
Business manager Wayne Shepard told the board that the hot lunch program, which ran a deficit last year, is now performing much better. Lunches are now being served to 60 percent of the school, up from 40 percent last year, he said. The improvement is due largely to a new lunch schedule that has reduced crowding in the cafeteria, he said.
Taxpayers in the LRUHS member districts will be seeing a slight savings this year. The board voted to refund an unanticipated budget excess of $85,689 in the form of a reduction in the current year's assessments. The reductions range from just under $4,000 for Westmore to more than $25,000 Thr Barton.