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School board approves revised selection classification policy, hears update on district AAPR plan

— The Cazenovia board of education last week unanimously approved a revision to the district’s athletic Selection Classification policy in an effort to make the policy clearer and better understood by students, parents and coaches. The revision, which kept the policy intact but clarified its administration, was the result of six months of discussions and the work of a special committee comprised of representatives of the various stakeholder groups on the issue.

Selection Classification is a program under which exceptional seventh or eighth grade student athletes can be moved up to a higher team level after undergoing an application and physical and emotional maturity examination process.

The program came under fire this past January based primarily on the use of the program last year, during which six eighth grade basketball players were advanced through the program. Some board members decried the situation as not only against the intent of the policy but also implausible that six players in one year could meet the level of truly “elite” or “exceptional” athletes as the policy intends.

Board members asked whether the policy’s wording is incorrect, the definition of an “exceptional” athlete is being misapplied and/or misinterpreted to move too many players up and if the policy is even simply unfair to older students who may lose playing time to younger students moved up to higher levels.

District Athletic Director Michael Byrnes conducted a coach survey this spring and the results showed in general that while the majority of district coaches liked the program, they had a “mixed reaction” as to how it was used by their fellow coaches. The board then formed a special working committee comprised of Byrnes, school board members, coaches and parents whose goal would be to consider and revise the policy.

At its Aug. 25 regular monthly meeting, the board heard the final recommendation of the committee, which determined that the Selection Classification policy should remain intact, but the district should do a better job educating students, parents and coaches on why, when and how a student athlete should be recommended for selection classification. The board also clarified how the district athletic director administers the program and recommends student athletes for the program.

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