By DAVID GREEN
Morenci Board of Education members made their way through several policy changes Monday night, but left a few untouched and in need of additional discussion.
One of the toughest decisions dealt with participation in sports by students who aren’t regular full-time students.
By state law, home-school students must be allowed to participate if they spend 66 percent of the day enrolled in regular school classes. With Morenci’s seven-period day, students would need to take five classes.
That left middle college students and alternative education students to consider.
Middle college, a fairly recent program operated by the Lenawee ISD, gives able students the opportunity to earn an associate's degree through Jackson College while attending high school at the middle college campus. Morenci's participation in the program is limited to two students and only one, Darian Double, intends to enroll in the program.
Students may participate in athletics at their home school if it’s allowed by the district. Only four county districts allow it and Morenci is not among them.
Regular students are together all day as a team, said board member Laura Spencer at the July 14 meeting, and middle college kids are not part of that.
Middle college students have the option of enrolling at one of the four districts that allow participation and making that their home school.
The discussion July 14 also included alternative classroom students.
"Extracurriculars are earned," Spencer said. "It's a privilege, and for a lot of kids it's an incentive to stay in class and earn good grades."
Board member Phil McCaskey stated his opposition and agreed with Spencer that it should be an incentive to do well in school.
"But if they meet all the requirements," said Ivy Hutchison, "why not give them the opportunity? We want them to stay in school, also. Why not give them the opportunity to raise their grades and join the team?"
Secondary principal Kim Irish stated that students in the alternative classroom have the opportunity to switch to the regular program at any time.
If they want to participate in sports or band or other extracurriculars, they need to move back into the regular program, suggested board president Scott Merillat.
McCaskey said that allowing participation could serve to draw kids out of the regular classroom. They see the alternative kids come to school late and wear hats in school.
"If they're allowed to play sports, too, it makes it even more of a draw," he said.
In that case, Hutchison said, maybe sports should be used as a goal for them to get back into the regular classroom.
Allowing participation, Spencer said, seems to be contradictory to what students need for success in the workplace.
"Everything we're talking about—team members, being on time, functioning together—to me it's sending the wrong message to say, ‘OK, you don't have to be part of us all day, but you still get all the benefits,’" she said.
At the meeting Monday night, a motion was made to require full-time status which would prevent both middle college and alternative ed students from participating.
Carrie Dillon cast the only “no” vote, noting that Double has attended school here her entire life.
“I think it’s an opportunity we should extend to kids,” she said. “She has the opportunity to go somewhere to get an education that would fit her needs.”
She’s choosing to go to another school, Spencer said, and we’re not making this decision for one student.
Hutchison said that after much discussion at the committee level, it was decided that the most fair approach would be to make it the same as for home school students.
DIPLOMAS—In a question about the presentation of diplomas by members of the school board, it was decided that seniors will be required to request in advance if they want someone other than the superintendent to give the diploma.
The board should review the entire commencement process to see if any changes are needed, suggested board member Matt Bachman.