Athletics was once again a hot topic when participation of charter, private and home school students came before the Churchill County School Board last week.
Trustees took no action at their regularly scheduled meeting after discussing revisions to Regulation R5601 regarding eligibility of students in school district programs. One of the chief issues centers on students from outside the district participating in junior high and high school athletic programs, especially in sports such as basketball or soccer where coaches normally face difficult decisions of making cuts.
Home-schooled and charter-school students are eligible to participate at high schools, in accordance to state law. While Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association (NIAA) membership includes private schools, individuals who attend private high schools are excluded from competing for public high school teams. There are no state regulations, however, regarding private school students who want to try out for junior high teams.
Oasis Academy, a kindergarten through eighth grade charter school, has already had students try out for teams at Churchill County Junior High School. And in the future, they may be looking to compete at the high school level.
Greg Koenig, school board president, said he had received recent feedback that opposed the participation of charter and private school students in school district programs.
"I don't know if we're being financially responsible to the district by paying for charter school kids to have an experience in sports," Koenig said. "I could pay for one kid, but to potentially have eight kids make it on our basketball team under the all-inclusive policy, we're paying for them to have a basketball experience. That's the sentiment I've got from the community the last couple of days ."
Melissa Mackedon, Oasis Academy administrator, said the charter school does not currently have enough students to occupy a majority of spots on any team roster.
"If we did, we probably wouldn't even be having this conversation," she said.
Mackedon also spoke to trustees about the cost of involvement by charter school students in athletics.
"We've been doing this since June and not one time has one person from the school board or administration come to the Oasis Academy board and said, 'Will you pay your share? Will you pay a percentage?' I can't speak for our board, but I think you would be pleasantly surprised."
One proposal favored by trustees in an informal vote around the table was Option D, which reads: "Charter/private school students may try out and earn positions on competitive sports teams based on the same criteria used for students enrolled in the district, however, the number of charter/private students on the team will be limited to one for every 10 district enrolled students, rounding up the number of charter/private students."
Trustee Steve Nunn supported that option, saying he did not want to penalize any child for a decision made by their parents.
Trustee Clay Hendrix voiced his support for Option C, which would allow "charter/private school students to try out and be accepted on teams as though they were district-enrolled students.
"Option C gives everyone a level playing field and gives absolute discretion to the coaches who to choose (for their team)," Hendrix said.
Churchill County School District website: http://www.churchill.k12.nv.us