By Patrick McCallister
For Hometown News
DELAND-Since before its passage, Policy 313, better known as Pass-to-Play, has been controversial. Indeed, it was born in a 3-2 vote along gender lines 15 years ago. The three women on the Volusia County School Board in '97 voted for the policy. The two men against it.
At its most recent meeting, the school board agreed to revisit the policy later this year.
"I do not want to do away with Pass-to-Play," board member Candace Lankford, DeLand, said at a recent meeting. "All I'm saying is (that since its passage) there have been changes and we need to tweak it."
The policy requires the district's high-school students involved in extracurricular competitions to maintain a 2.0 GPA, and have passing grades in all core subjects - those needed for graduation - to continue competing. While the policy is supposed to affect all students in extracurricular competitions, its critics say the policy has only been applied to student athletes.
Additionally, critics have long charged that Pass-to-Play discourages student athletes from taking more rigorous classes, because it's applied on report-card-to-report-card evaluations, rather than semester-to-semester.
According to school records, about 1,775 Volusia high-school students were involved in fall sports, such as football and cheerleading, last school year. By the end of the first nine weeks, 229, about 13 percent, were ineligible to continue playing due to failures in core classes, or dropping below the 2.0 GPA. By the end of the second nine weeks-when course credits were awarded-108, or about 47 percent, were again eligible to play.
Board member Judy Conte, Ormond Beach, one of the policy's authors, said she feels the policy is doing what it was intended to-keeping students focused on their academics and graduating high school with a better chance of going to college.
"This gets to the heart of who we are as an educational body," she said.