Policy changes ninth grade extracurricular participationOct 08, 2021 12:17PM ● By Becky Ginos
FARMINGTON—The Board of Education approved at Tuesday’s meeting a change in the ninth grade extracurricular activity policy that would open the door for students to be able to participate in athletics outside of their boundary high school without jeopardizing eligibility.
“Currently if a ninth-grader wants to participate in high school they have to participate at their boundary feeder school,” said District Healthy Lifestyles Director Dr. Tim Best. “Parents say if their kids go to another high school we’re restricting their eligibility. Yes and no. Everybody has always been able to play in ninth grade at their boundary school.”
The policy change would allow students to apply for a boundary permit their eighth grade year to participate in athletics wherever they receive the permit if there is room at that school, he said. “If they’re successful at getting an academic spot at a different high school they can spend their career there in the ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th grades. If they don’t get a permit and participate as a ninth grader at their school then transfer to another school they would have to sit out a year.”
For example, if an athlete’s boundary school is Clearfield High and they played in ninth grade then got a permit to attend Northridge they could only play sophomore or JV their first year not varsity if they change schools, said Best. “We don’t want kids bouncing around. This gives students the opportunity to either attend the first day of class or tryout and make a team at the school.”
Permits are based on availability, he said. “Our schools are so full. Most are at capacity with boundary kids. When enrollment reaches a certain amount the school is deemed full then we open one and a half percent of capacity to permits. If a high school still has room you wouldn’t really need a permit.”
Best said this will streamline the process. “If students apply in the eighth grade it gives us a better understanding of why a kid wants to go to this school. It could be for this choir program or a certain pathway. It lets them apply a little bit earlier.”
It’s a lottery system, he said. “We don’t want to create super teams. It’s a random draw. Everybody goes into the lottery together whether you’re a 4.0 student or you’re 7 feet tall. It’s not just eighth graders who want to be an athlete in ninth grade all students go into the poll.”
Board member Cheryl Phipps expressed concern that passing the policy would allow schools to load their sports teams so kids would come to the school with the best advantage. “This could exclude seniors who get cut so a freshman can take their place,” she said. “I want sports to be available to all kids.”
“In a perfect world kids would play where they live,” said Board President John Robison. “But with legislative rules, etc. it’s been a challenge to keep kids playing where they live. There’s no intent to load up any school.”
Davis School District is the only district along the Wasatch Front that doesn’t follow the UHSAA’s first entry rule, he said. “This will bring us inline with other districts as well. We’re hopeful this will work out for the best and also be beneficial to the community and other stakeholders.”
The school board approved the policy with Phipps voting no. It will go into effect for the 2022-23 school year.