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Athletes get second chance on eligibility

MILLERSPORT – Junior high and high school athletes will each get a second chance to remain eligible to participate in sports, Walnut Township School Board members unanimously decided after a long discussion at their August 8 board meeting.

Head football coach Josh Whetstone proposed the eligibility waiver. Walnut Township requires athletes to maintain at least a 1.75 grade point average to participate in athletics or cheerleading. The Ohio High School Athletic Association does not have a GPA standard, but all athletes would still have to carry five credits and meet OHSAA eligibility requirements.

“I want it to be a chance, not a freebie,” he told board members. “I want the chance to mold a few more (players).”

Athletes would get one waiver for a nine-week grading period during the seventh and eighth grade and one more for grades nine through 12. Whetstone also proposed a 4.5 week or half way through the nine-week grading period check for any students on a waiver. If at that midway check, the student is still not achieving at least a 1.75 gpa, the waiver is withdrawn and the student is immediately ineligible.

Timing was a major issue for some board members and administrators. “We either do it immediately or next year,” President Vince Popo said.

“I believe in kids getting a second chance,” Superintendent Randy Cotner said. “Kids forget in the spring that their eligibility is being determined for the fall.”

“I think the idea is great,” high school principal Jeff Stought said. “I do have concerns starting now; I wish we had done it earlier.” He also believed it should be a grades 7 – 12 policy.

In other business, board members approved a policy limiting vacation carryover for support staff to a maximum of 10 days. Board member Carol King and Popo voted “no.” Payment in lieu of vacation would be limited to a maximum of five days per year. Support staff employees will have until June 30, 2017, to get their vacation carryover days down to a maximum of 10.

Elementary principal Kim Yenni said students will eat breakfast in their classrooms this year. They will pick up “grab & go” breakfasts in the cafeteria but eat them in the classroom so they are ready to start at 7:55 a.m.

Cotner again thanked voters for approving the emergency levy renewal. “We are still in fiscal caution,” he reminded board members. “We hope to be removed soon. That’s a good thing for us.”

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