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Prince Bill Will Allow The Magnet School In Other School Sports Activities

In his first Bill proposed a state senator, congressman Brian Prince prefiled legislation will allow students to attend a magnet school in other school sports activities.
Currently magnet schools in Georgia are eligible to participate in the state’s high school athletic association, but few magnets offer the full spectrum of sports programs like traditional high schools.
Magnet schools are public schools that have specialized themes such as fine arts or technology and have competitive admissions processes that are open to all attendance zones in a district. With a specialized focus, not all have the demand or time for full-fledged athletics.
Because Richmond County’s three magnet high schools offer limited sports programs – primarily golf, rowing and swimming – Prince, D-Augusta, said families often have to forfeit a high school sports career at a traditional public school for an enhanced educational experience at a magnet school.
There is no state law prohibiting students from attending magnet schools while playing sports at the schools they are assigned to attend based on their residence, but bylaws of the Georgia High School Association – the state’s athletic regulation body with more than 400 private and public member schools – forbid the arrangement. Prince’s bill would essentially force GHSA’s hand by legislating that no public school receiving state education funding could participate in regulated athletics if athletic associations do not allow magnet schools’ students to play at their zone schools.
“We wouldn’t do it willingly, but we’d be forced to (change the bylaws),” said GHSA executive director Gary Phillips. “Under our rules a student has to play for the school they attend… This is not a program where you can go wherever you want and play whatever you want at another school. The premise has always been the students play for the school and represents the school they attend.”
Prince, a former Glenn Hills High School athletic standout with two children who attend Richmond County magnet schools, said complaints from constituents helped fuel his bill.
He said some parents feel it is an unfair sacrifice to have to give up a chance to play football or basketball in exchange for attending a magnet school, which may not offer football or basketball.
“If this bill passes, I see an increase in students competing for magnet schools,” Prince said, stressing these students would still have to try out and be chosen for sports teams at their zone schools. “What you’ll also have is more students staying in the public school system versus going to Aquinas, Augusta Prep, Westminister or even moving to Columbia County.”
Support for the idea varies among Richmond County Board of Education members.
Board member Marion Barnes said the arrangement would not work logistically since magnet schools have different dismissal times than traditional schools, and magnet schools by design are meant to focus on academics.
He also said the arrangement would be unfair to students at traditional schools who don’t have the option of walking into a magnet school and taking select classes.
“Take a kid, let’s say, from Butler (High School), are we going to allow him to go to (John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School) and take drama?” Barnes said. “That’s a two way street. The ballet or dance they have at Davidson, we don’t have them at Laney or Josey. Will those kids be allowed to take those courses down there?”
Board member Jimmy Atkins said he supports the bill because students should not be penalized for making choices that support their academics.
“It allows them to go to a school where they can accelerate academically in certain fields and also be able to participate in sports,” he said. “If a child is a good enough athlete to play sports in college, they definitely shouldn’t be penalized if they’re given the opportunity to attend a magnet school.”
Richmond County Technical Career Magnet School Principal Renee Kelly said she would not be opposed to her students playing sports at another school, but she can foresee some conflicts given the nature of the curriculum.
For example, about 25 students are participating in the First Robotics program, where they will travel to Georgia Institute of Technology during the week to compete. About 45 other students take dual enrollment classes at Augusta Technical College after school, which would conflict with any kind of football practice.
“I have no problem with the kids participating in sports, but I guess you have to look at the focus of what your school is offering,” said Kelly, a former college basketball star and professional player.
Kelly said sports teach young people invaluable life skills, but they don’t only come from football and other contact sports. She said students could get the same character benefits from the golf, swimming, tennis and track offered at TCM.
“It’s not like the magnet schools do not have sports for the kids to partake in, but we’re not playing contact sports,” Kelly said. “There are other school districts in the nation that allow the kids at magnet schools to play sports at traditional schools. Under that, the difficulty could be conflict with extracurricular things they could be doing at their magnet schools.”Source:chronicle.augusta.com

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