Tuesday, March 18th, 2014
By Doug Drexler
Celina schools try to help struggling athletes
  CELINA - Board of education members Monday night addressed student-athletes who struggle with grades, additional calamity days and clarified their position on Common Core standards.
Members approved changes to the district's athlete eligibility policy to aid students before their grades make them ineligible to participate in sports. Athletes must pass a minimum of four, one-credit classes in the preceding grading period and maintain a 1.5 grade-point average to be eligible to participate. Any student in grades seven to 12 receiving more than one failing grade is ineligible.
To help athletes who struggle academically, board members approved a requirement that checks students' grades twice per month. Any student with a GPA under 2.0 or who is failing a class will be placed on academic watch and assigned academic intervention. The students will be required to attend study table where they can get help from teachers, superintendent Jesse Steiner said.
"If they're not at 2.0, they're not ineligible, but they'll be working harder," Steiner said.  Teachers already help at the study table so there would be no additional cost to the district, athletic director Bruce Boley said.
The board also approved allowing Boley to add the new standard to the student-athlete bulletin to be published in June.
Boley said the district's policy is similar to those in other schools in the Western Buckeye League and the Midwest Athletic Conference.
Only a few of Celina's athletes have trouble maintaining eligibility, he said. The average GPAs of Celina athletes were above 3.1 the last three athletic seasons, he said. Only three spring athletes had GPAs below 2.0, he added.
The board also reasserted its control over curriculum in spite of public concerns over Common Core standards. Without comment, the board issued a statement saying in 2009 the state legislature required the state board of education to update its academic standards.
"The Ohio Department of Education subsequently adopted new standards in math and English from the Common Core standards. However, Ohio developed its own standards with regard to social studies and science," the statement reads.
"These standards, which have been adopted are just that ... standards that set goals for what students should know at the various grade levels," said board president Cindy Piper, who read the statement.
"They are simply a measure of progress similar to the former proficiency tests and currently the OAA's (Ohio Achievement Assessments) and the Ohio Graduation Tests."
"There is no curriculum associated with Common Core, nor is there a required state curriculum. The Celina City Schools Board of Education, while continuing to follow Ohio state standards, will remain responsible, at a local level, to develop curriculum and lesson plans, along with selecting textbooks and other instructional materials which reflect the values of our local area," she read. "The Celina City Schools will fight vigorously to defend and maintain that local control.
"The Celina City Board of Education members are elected by the public and we acknowledge a duty to that public to maintain and preserve appropriate instruction for our children," she continued.
"We will remain vigilant in safeguarding the instruction of our children. Any member of the public who has concerns about inappropriate content being taught to our children should certainly feel free to express those concerns, first to a child's teacher, then to the administration and board - respectively."
Piper this morning said the board created the statement in reaction to the ongoing public debate over Common Core.
"It's just a culmination of everything that's been in the media," she said.
She performed hours of research on Common Core and found nothing contrary to local values and the board would not adopt anything that was, Piper said.
The board also amended the district's calendar to add contingency days March 29 and April 5, 12, 17 and 21, after the governor signs the bill adding four additional calamity days for Ohio's schools.
Any additional contingency days would be added to the end of the school year. March 29, April 5 and April 12 are designated as blizzard bag days, allowing students to make up within two weeks any missed work either assigned online or in packets sent home. April 17 is now a makeup day.
Celina Education Association Co-President Dave Scott said teachers worked with the administration on the plan and 90 percent of them favored it.
In other business,
• board members accepted the retirements of teachers Carol Hone and Rachel Schleucher after 35 years and Kathy Sammetinger, speech language pathologist, after 25 years.
• approved a $6,000, one-year contract with the state auditor for compilation of financial statements for the district's fiscal year ending June 30.
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