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Board approves several policies, tables 'habits-of-work' requirement for High School extracurricular eligibility

The School Board on Sept. 12, 2017 approved changes to several school policies, and tabled approval of one which introduces 'habits-of-work' grades to the requirements for participation in extracurricular activities at the High School for the 2017-18 school year.

The board tabled changes to policy JJJ, "High School Cocurricular and Extracurricular Activities Eligibility and Code of Conduct," to their Oct. 10 meeting so that student representatives could share the proposed changes (p. 12) with fellow students for better understanding. The proposed changes will also be on the agenda for the policy subcommittee's next meeting, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26, at Town Hall.

Jo Morrissey, School Board member who moved to table, said it would also give students a chance to "weigh in" on the proposals.

Students were concerned that the new habits-of-work standards, introduced to the High School this year among first steps toward proficiency-based education standards, if required for eligibility would discourage them from taking part in extracurricular activities. [see related story]

Barbara Powers, School Board members who heads the policy subcommittee, said the proposal would render students with habits-of-work grades lower than 70 ineligible for extracurricular activities Eligibility will be reinstated if the grades are brought up to standard in two weeks.

"This would be just simply two weeks of a chance to make things up in terms of getting back to that 70 average," Powers said. "Again this is looking for a score of 70, not perfect, but a score of 70 just like in an academic grade," she said.

Ali Ingalls, one of the student representatives, said she did not believe students understood the two-week time frame and agreed that bringing the proposal to students would alleviate some anxiety, especially for athletes and coaches.

In other policy matters, the board approved updates to policy IKF Graduation Requirements, to phase-in proficiency standards. Students who are currently freshmen will need to demonstrate proficiency in English language arts, math, science and social studies, Powers said. The following year, in 2022, proficiency will be required for one additional subject of the student's choice; and two more electives in 2023. "That's how the state has required through statute that this be phased in over the next three years," Powers said. "Stand by - we're never exactly sure where things may change, but this is our very best take on current legislation and the policy we should have in place recognizing that."

Powers also outlined changes, and the School Board approved, changes to these policies:

  • IGA Curriculum Development: The superintendent and the director of teaching and learning will be taking the lead on setting goals, with ongoing review for changes in conditions. School Board will approve substantive changes in curriculum.
  • IKE Promotion, Retention and Acceleration of Students: The team of teachers, parents and school principal will reach consensus on any decision to retain a student, rather than having the decision lie with the principal with a parental appeal provision.
  • JL Wellness: Section on nutrition establishes 20-minute lunch period; provides for snack time in a time frame appropriately relative to lunch; strongly encourages teachers to incorporate physical or outdoor activity into their students' day; suggests training for staff to recognize social-emotional needs of students. The revisions were the result of work by a wellness committee made up of board members, the superintendent, teachers and school nurses, which will stay on as an steering committee.