Thursday, September 22, 2016

G-H School Board updates handbook

By Will Bublitz

To clarify the responsibilities of student athletes, coaches and administrators, the Genoa-Hugo Board of Education approved a revision to the school’s Athletic Handbook during its Monday, Sept. 19 meeting.

Superintendent Randy Holmen said a revision was needed to the rules governing whether a student athlete is allowed to attend practices or compete after an absence from school due to illness or some other reason.

“Kids are expected to be in school,” Holmen said. “Part of our job is to teach responsibility. However, I think we need to look at the handbook.”

Most of the revision discussion centered around the Athletic Handbook’s rule that student athletes who miss practice the day prior to a competition are required to “sit out” a designated period of the following day’s game.

Some board members said they wanted to avoid situations where ill students have attended school to avoid the handbook’s rules that would force them to sit out a portion of the next day’s competition. However, they also stressed they wanted to keep the rules strong enough to prevent students from avoiding their responsibilities.

After some discussion, the board decided to give the coaches and administrators more discretion in making decisions about individual student athletes. They settled upon two revisions to the Athletic Handbook under its section on “Practice Rules and Procedures.”

The first revision involves Item No. 4. The revision states: “If a student misses more than one school period in a day due to illness or oversleeping, they may not practice or play that day.”

The second revision is to Item No. 5. That revision states: “Any athlete that misses practice the day before a competition because they are ill or not in attendance may be subject to consequences of non-playing time at the discretion of the coach or administration.

“Example: Student A misses practice on Thursday because he/she is sick. They may play on Friday. However, they may be subject to sitting out a designated amount of playing time for the competition on Friday at the discretion of the coach or administration. If there is no competition on Friday, then there will be no required consequence but the coach or administration may still determine playing time.”

Also during Monday’s meeting, Principal Shari Humphrey announced some good news about the latest ACT scores for Genoa-Hugo’s students. The Class of 2016 had scored 21.0, which bettered the state average of 20.6.

“This is the first time in five years that we had beaten the state,” Humphrey said. “That’s awesome. This is exciting news. For once, we’re above the state average.”

For the previous four years, Genoa-Hugo’s graduating classes had scored below the state average. The Class of 2012 scored 18.3 compared to the state average of 20.6; Class of 2013, 18.3 to 20.4; Class of 2014, 18.0 to 20.6; and Class of 2015, 17.6 to 20.7.

The ACT test results are an indication of how prepared students are for college-level work. The ACT consists of curriculum-based tests in English, mathematics, reading and science designed to measure the skills needed for success in first-year college coursework.

Monday’s meeting was rounded out with a discussion of the problems with Genoa-Hugo’s new school building. The $14.9 million project, which was officially completed in August 2014, was partially funded with a BEST (Build Excellent Schools Today) grant from the Colorado Department of Education.

“I feel that balls were dropped on the BEST project,” board member Becky Ravenkamp said. “The contractors and subcontractors did not fulfill their contracts. I feel frustrated.”

Since the new school building opened two years ago, a number of problems with the construction and workmanship have surfaced. Some of these include improper ventilation, lack of air conditioning in classrooms and gymnasium, the instability of an exterior retaining wall, a leaking roof, improperly installed toilets and parking lot issues.

School officials had pointed out these problems to the contractors since the building opened and promises were made to address them. Some work was performed, but several of the problems were left unresolved. The warranty on the building contract expired earlier this month.

Ravenkamp suggested taking legal action against the contractors to force them to fix the building’s problems, but Holmen said that is not a viable option because the school district “can’t compete” with the financial and legal resources of these large construction firms. Any litigation would be “dragged out seven to nine years” resulting in legal costs the Genoa-Hugo district cannot afford.

Holmen went onto explain that Genoa-Hugo’s problems are not unique. He said other school districts have experienced similar problems with their new buildings constructed with BEST grants.

After further discussion, the suggestion was made to invite a member of the BEST board of directors who lives in Elbert County to an upcoming Genoa-Hugo school board meeting to discuss the school construction problems.

Monday’s meeting ended with the board going into executive session to discuss a personnel issue.

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