School board hears about sports issues, sets first day of school

PAT FRIDGEN

Three visitors shared opinions on issues facing the Greencastle-Antrim School District at the Feb. 18 school board meeting. Two of the matters received action during the session.

Lorraine Armstrong, a freshman, asked that the board take seriously the conditions of the field hockey field. She said conditions were unsafe. When the  ball was near the goal cage, players had trouble seeing it because of the dust. She wanted a field the district could be proud of.

No one argued with her. Parent Kurt Gipe brought up similar concerns Dec. 3 and asked for some way to create a level playing surface with healthy grass.

Director of Grounds Thomas Dick agreed the field was in "horrendous shape" and had never been intended or maintained for play. It's location prevented accessible water for irrigation. It had been treated in the fall with aeration and new seed and he was anxious to see how it fared over the winter. He said the school "lost the field in August" due to dry conditions. On top of that, the field received constant use throughout the year with no chance to recover.

Superintendent C. Gregory Hoover and athletic director Vicki Ritchey explained options they had considered, such as moving soccer and baseball practices to other sites to open up space for the girls to play their sport.

The popularity of youth sports had taken a toll on the grassy areas between the elementary and secondary buildings. "We are overrun by our community programs," said Ritchey, mentioning especially midget football. "We certainly want to support them but they're killing our fields."

Dick said  a vacant area behind the primary school could be maintained as a quality field for field hockey games only.

The board's Facilities Committee will discuss options for the athletic fields and come back with a recommendation.

Other concerns

Dawn  Boscolo, speaking on behalf of other parents, was not keen on changing the school calendar to an Aug. 16 start, one option for 2010. The board voted unanimously to approve the later date, Aug. 30, for next year. School will end on June 7. At the previous board meeting, Hoover recommended the later start but advocated an earlier start in future years.

Felicia Hollingshead admitted she was late in addressing the issue of hiring a School Resource Officer, which was rejected by Greencastle Borough Council Feb. 1 due to funding sources, but still supported the position. She asked the board to reevaluate its spending. Because of the frequency of police visits to the schools, she suggested that at a minium, the police department's canine be brought into the schools weekly, students be assigned parking spaces and something be done about people speeding in the area before and after school.

Athletic policy update

Ritchey announced a change in the athletic tryout policy for sports in which coaches make cuts. Next year they will utilize written evaluation rubrics with a standardized 60 point scale. Included in the rating are attendance and grades, as well as ability. Currently only soccer and football do not cut players. In the past, the other coaches had discretion on how they selected teams and designed their own rubrics.

Ritchey said students with poor attendance records, meaning unlawful or unexcused absences, will get deductions but those making satisfactory grades will gain points.

"Playing sports is a privilege," she said. "For fall sports, the preceding semester matters. For winter and spring sports the current classes are considered."

 Citizen Max Houck had brought up inequities between boys and girls sports try-outs at the Oct. 1 meeting.

 The new information will be in student and coaching handbooks for the 2010-2011 year.

Students disciplined

Three high school students were discplined, with the board following the recommendations of the pupil personnel committee.

Two sophomore girls, ages 15 and 16, had been in a fight Jan. 26, and when a faculty member tried to break it up, they struck him in the head and shoulder. Other adults had to intervene. Principal Ed Rife said the two were expelled for the remainder of the school year. They were placed at Manito and may be eligible to return to G-AHS next year.

A freshman boy, 15, was expelled for at least one year for making terroristic threats against the high school. Rife said he had had other discipline issues. The boy is required to undergo a psychological evaluation and depending on the results, will go to Manito. None of the students is allowed on school property during the term of the expulsion.

In other business, the board accepted the resignation of Clifford Olson Jr., secondary gifted support teacher, effective Feb. 26.