Tuesday, May 16, 2000

C average for athletes argued

Public schools hold forum

By Jim Hannah
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Chris Nelms graduated from Cincinnati Public Schools on schedule. He never made the honor roll or got an A, except maybe in gym. But baseball kept him interested in school.

        He went on to be a stellar shortstop at Central State University and played in the Reds farm system. He now runs a baseball program for inner-city youths.

        But if the district had the same strict eligibility requirements for its student athletes 30 years ago, Mr. Nelms said he probably would have never been allowed to put on a high school baseball uniform.

        Mr. Nelms was one of 30 people who attended a public forum Monday evening on whether the district should lower the grade requirements for students participating in extracurricular activities.

        “If we are going to maintain these guidelines ... put in some type of academic support for the students,” Mr. Nelms said. Some of the more than 15 speakers, many of them coaches in the district, had similar arguments.

        No decision was made at the forum. The program committee, composed of Sally Warner and fellow school board members John Gilligan and Florence Newell, could recommend changes in the policy to the full board.

        “Our objective this evening is to maintain our high standards, but we also want to increase the level of participation of students because we know that will increase their academic performance,” said Ms. Warner.

        Now players must maintain a C average or above — one of the toughest rules in Hamilton County. The state requires a D average. Proponents say sports keep students, especially marginal ones, interested in school and working on grades. Opponents say the kids won't work unless they face being sidelined.


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