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Newton school board considering theme school sports

COVINGTON -- Students at the Newton County Theme School might get a chance to participate in more sports next school year.

Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews is recommending that the Newton County Board of Education approve the theme school to have intramural sports and also allow students to participate in sports at their zoned middle schools with parents providing transportation.

After the school board recently held a discussion about theme school students being able to participate in sports, parents of current fifth- and sixth-grade students at the theme school were given a survey to get input about their interest in athletics.

With all of the parents in the school surveyed, 19 preferred that the school form a parent committee to discuss nontraditional theme school-based sports like golf and tennis for small groups or individuals; 18 preferred for seventh-grade students to participate with zoned middle schools with transportation provided by parents; 11 preferred that seventh-grade students participate at one designated middle school with transportation provided by parents; and 23 preferred a hybrid with seventh-grade students participating in theme school-based sports while allowing other interested students to participate at the other middle schools.

"Not all parents responded (to the survey)," said Samantha Fuhrey, executive director of Secondary Education at NCSS. "(The results are) telling us that they're split."

Then, Fuhrey met with middle school principals and presented them options. She said they were receptive to the suggestions and assured Fuhrey that coaches would accept the students and treat them the same as other students.

In the end, the system decided to recommend the hybrid option for the school so that more parents may be satisfied, Mathews said.

If approved by the school board, the school will have discussions about what type of sports to offer at the school level, Fuhrey said. She added that the middle schools will be in communication with the theme school to let parents know about student opportunities in sports.

The school board is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the board room at the Newton County BOE building, which is located at 2109 Newton Drive in Covington.