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New London - Next fall, students who want to participate in athletics or extracurricular activities at New London High School may have to achieve a 1.7 grade point average to be eligible.
The school board and school administrators intend to raise the bar for students in terms of academic performance, demanding more from them than what is required by the state athletic conference.
At a policy committee meeting Tuesday, Board of Education members retracted their decision made last month to move forward with a proposal to require increasing levels of mandatory academic support for student athletes whose grade point averages fall below 2.26, or about a C-plus.
Instead, the committee, in a special meeting, chose to revisit a GPA policy that had been proposed by the high school athletic director in November.
That policy proposed that with the start of the 2012-13 school year, students would have to maintain a 1.7 simple GPA or a 1.7 weighted GPA if the student is enrolled in advanced placement courses. The following school year, 2013-14, the GPA requirement would be raised to 2.0.
The policy committee endorsed this proposal and sent it to the full Board of Education.
"This proposal should have been done years ago," resident Debbie Phillips said. "We have waited long enough. Years have gone by, many generations have gone by and it's time to make changes. This will hopefully raise the standards for parents as well."
All Connecticut schools that compete interscholastically in varsity, junior varsity or freshman sports or sports clubs must abide by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference rules, which require students to have passing grades in four full-time Carnegie Units (classes) to be eligible to compete. In some cases, passing four Carnegie Units could mean four Ds and two Fs (a GPA of 0.66) or four Ds and three Fs ( a GPA of 0.57).
A student whose grades fall below the CIAC minimum is ineligible for competition until the next marking period.
Athletes at New London High must meet the CIAC rules to be eligible for competition, but under the proposed policy students also would have to maintain at least a 1.7 GPA. According to the policy, if a student meets the CIAC requirements but falls below a 1.7 GPA, he or she would be placed on academic probation for five weeks.
Students on probation must attend all academic support sessions, must be on time for all classes and must complete all classroom assignments. All students who have been placed on probation at the beginning of the season will achieve a 1.7 GPA by the end of the fifth week. If they don't, they would be deemed ineligible and would remain ineligible until the next grading cycle.
According to the proposed policy, at progress report time (every nine weeks) or at the end of the semester during a season, a student who was deemed eligible at the start of the season and is below the 1.7 GPA mark but still meets CIAC standards will have a five-week probation period when he or she may practice, but not play in games. At the end of that five-week period, if the student is still below a 1.7 GPA, then that student will be deemed ineligible.
For all other extracurricular activities - clubs, intramural athletics and school-sponsored travel - a student must maintain a 1.7 GPA to participate.
At the start of the extracurricular activity in any academic year, according to the policy, if a student is below a 1.7 GPA he or she will be placed on academic probation for five weeks. All students on probation must be above a 1.7 GPA at the end of the five-week period to remain eligible.
Extracurricular activities that directly relate to a class and comprise course/class requirements for a grade are considered co-curricular. These activities include band and the Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program. Academic eligibility requirements do not apply to co-curricular activities.
"I've said from day one that extracurriculars are a privilege," school board member Delanna Muse said Tuesday. "I thought 1.7 was too low and I wanted to start with a 2.0. If they (the students) really want to be involved in extracurriculars, with the academic support piece, they can do it."