Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

School board considers dual sport athletics

The Wahkiakum School Board reviewed a policy prepared by athletic staff regarding dual sport participation, learned of an incident of drug abuse at school, and conducted routine business at its meeting Monday.

The board learned that five high school students had been involved in inhaling or huffing “canned air.” Products used to clean computer keyboards contain two ingredients, tetrafluoroethane and difluoroethane, which can be fatal when mixed and inhaled.

High school Principal Dan Casler said it took quite a bit of investigative work to learn what happened. Staff became aware of the incident when one of the students who had gone home sick (with vomiting) called the principal and admitted what had happened.

Law enforcement and the county Health Department staff were involved in addressing the issue. Casler has sent information to parents.

The gas formed when the can is shaken is a controlled substance and can be fatal, Casler said.

The board, minus Tony Boyce and Mike Quigley, deferred a vote on a dual sport participation policy until its next meeting. Sign up for spring sports begins Feb. 28, so the district will have time to implement the policy this year if it is approved on Feb. 22.

In November, the board asked district coaches to propose how student athletes could participate in two sports concurrently after a discussion prompted by parents Lamar and Wendy Blix. The Blix’s sons, in junior high and high school, may want to play both baseball and track.

District athletic staff met and developed a dual sport participation policy. Athletic Director Marc Niemeyer said the coaching staff reached consensus. The policy requires students who play two sports concurrently give priority to the team sport.

Lamar Blix, present at the meeting, agreed with the policy. “You owe your loyalty to the team,” he said.

Dual athletes must maintain a 2.75 grade point average along with other current district requirements. The policy requires a student who has participated in two sports, to maintain the 2.75 GPA even if he or she drops to one sport. A student who participates in only one sport is required to maintain a 1.75 GPA.

The policy is aimed at students who want to participate in baseball and track. Blix said, “I’ve never heard of a school that has this policy doing a winter or fall sport. It’s too tough.”

Niemeyer said track coach Mike Riley had “a big part of the discussion. He is happy with kids coming when they can.”

A significant part of his motivation is to allow his son to participate at the regional level, Blix said. “The teams haven’t been up there lately.”

“There may be four or five kids who take advantage of this,” said Director Tina Schubert said. “My concern is the other 156 students.”

The policy is designed to prevent a dual sport athlete from taking a spot that would deprive another student a chance to play.

Students and parents who want to participate in two sports concurrently must meet with both coaches. Each coach is allowed to set the rules for his or her sports.

Schubert said the majority of complaints or input from parents during her nine years on the board have been related to sports.

“No one questions our decisions about a text book. I want to be sure we are able to explain it well,” she said.

Schubert said it is ironic that a few years ago the district was discussing having fewer sports. But that discussion resulted from financial problems, Garrett said.

The district is currently seeking an assistant track coach for the high school, and both assistant and head track coaches for the middle school. Garrett said those interested should call the district office.

The board plans to consider the policy at its next meeting. If adopted, it will be reviewed in one year.

In other business, the district declared 50 computer monitors, 40 keyboards and mice, 10 towers and printers, and a laptop surplus. The school has received newer equipment, and after 45 days the surplus will be available for the public to purchase.

The board voted to make up two days of weather-related closures by cutting the first day from mid-winter break and by holding school on March 16.

During his report, Casler called attention to Patrick Carrico, a para-educator who has been helping special needs students and working at the Cathlamet Public Library.

“I’ve been hearing good things. I think he’s an asset to the school,” Casler said.

A principal’s round table is set for today (Thursday)with Theresa Libby at 6 p.m. to discuss internet safety, sexting and cyber-bullying.

The district has received a $100,000 grant for asbestos abatement. Maintenance Supervisor Bob McClintock is coordinating the removal of ceiling tiles this summer by a company the district has used in the past.

Garrett said the ceiling tile project will preclude starting school before Labor Day. The district office may move to modular buildings during the summer.

The board met in executive session for a personnel evaluation. When they reconvened they accepted a resignation from Carol Blix effective 10-3-13, when she is eligible to retire.


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