YOUNGSTOWN Educator to propose raising bar for grades

A year's warning would give students fair notification for the new requirement.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Will the board of education raise the bar for students wishing to participate in athletics or other extracurricular activities?
Superintendent Benjamin L. McGee said he'll have a proposed resolution before the board at its June 26 meeting that would raise the minimum grade point average from 1.0 to 1.25 for the 2002-2003 academic year and, after an evaluation by the board, possibly raise it the following school year to 1.5.
McGee said raising the required GPA is appropriate at a time when educators are raising performance expectations for all students.
He said a recent study shows few students would be excluded from activities under the higher standards and athletes need to be challenged to achieve higher academic standards so they can qualify for college admission.
"My belief is that the kids will rise to the standard," he said.
C. Alan Stephan, chairman of the board's policy committee, which discussed the matter Tuesday, favors the higher GPA. "I think it's an appropriate thing to do. I think it sends a message to all of our students that they must maintain academic excellence in order to do extracurricular activities," he said.
Saying he didn't have time to elaborate, Lock P. Beachum, board vice president, said the curriculum committee has some concerns, and the board could decide the issue in July or August.
"Why the big rush?," he asked.
Keeping issue alive: Stephan wants to bring the matter to a vote by the full board June 26, now that the policy committee has had it under consideration for almost four months. "I want it either up, or I want it down. I don't want it buried," he said.
"Academics is why we're here, and it's not about football. And these kids need to learn how to do more than read a playbook," said Tracey Winbush, board member.
Since fall athletic eligibility is contingent on spring grades, McGee said a year's advance warning would give students fair notice of the change.

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