SHARON Budget OK; grade plan will wait

The board will wait to vote on a policy that would require students participating in activities to maintain better grades.
SHARON, Pa. -- The city school board is ready to vote on a new budget calling for a 3-mill property tax increase but not on a "No F" eligibility policy for sports and other activities.
The board had no questions Wednesday when business manager James Wolf outlined the proposed $20,518,840 spending plan for next year.
The budget reflects a $700,000 increase, $330,000 of which is needed to pay for building renovations.
A vote on the spending plan is set for Monday.
School officials have said a 3-mill increase will cost the average residential taxpayer about $15 more a year.
By contrast, there was a lot of debate and a lot of questions, most of them from administrators, about the "No F" policy proposed by board member Richard Mancino.
What it proposes: Simply put, the policy would ban any student with a failing grade in any single class from participating in interscholastic sports and activities such as cheerleading, intramural sports, clubs and shows until the grade is improved to a passing level.
Band and chorus would be excluded because they are graded courses.
Mancino has been trying to get the board interested in his proposal for more than a year and, at one point, a committee was appointed to look at the issue and come back to the board with a recommendation.
The committee never gave the board a final report, but Mancino, who was a member, said the majority of the committee opposed his plan.
Nevertheless, he decided to push the issue to upgrade academic standards.
The policy is more strict than the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (PIAA) regulations which require students to have a passing cumulative average in the equivalent of four full credits weekly.
Mancino said that means students could actually be failing one or more individual courses.
Committee input: Mancino said he wanted the issue on Monday's agenda, but Lora Adams-King, board president, said the board needs to hear first from the committee that studied the issue.
Other school directors agreed and she directed the committee to file a report next month on its findings.
Many of the questions raised by administrators dealt with clarification of Mancino's intent and making sure the new policy doesn't conflict with PIAA regulations the district must follow.
Mancino conceded that some of the language needs to be worked out before a final vote is taken but said the district has been unwilling to address the issue.
The board needs to decide if it wants to impose a tougher standard. If it doesn't, kill the proposal, he said.

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