Newton school board OKs theme school sports

COVINGTON -- Some students at the Newton County Theme School will be able to participate in more sports next school year.

The Newton County Board of Education unanimously approved Tuesday during its monthly meeting for the theme school to offer intramural sports to middle schoolers and also allow students to participate in sports at their zoned middle schools with parents providing transportation. The move was recommended by Newton County School System Superintendent Gary Mathews.

Parents would have to provide their students' transportation.

Earlier this month, the school board had discussed students at the theme school being able to participate in sports, and subsequently, the school sent out a survey to parents of current fifth- and sixth-grade students at the theme school 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.

Samantha Fuhrey, executive director of Secondary Education at NCSS, has met with middle school principals. She said they were in favor of the program and were assuring that coaches would accept the students and treat them the same as other students.

System officials said 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 at the zoned schools.