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Sun, Feb. 23

Board members debate Northpoint athletics

PRESCOTT - Prescott Unified School District board members - for the most part - looked favorably on a variety of newly proposed extracurricular and athletic clubs for Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy Tuesday evening.

The proposed activities were among several requests to establish Northpoint officially as a college prep school. This is the academy's second year running.

Northpoint Director Geneva Saint-Amour wants to begin soccer, basketball, volleyball, outdoor adventure, a dance team, wrestling, and softball this year.

The athletics would follow a "European" or "club" model, which would include seasonal activities students play through off-site organizations such as AYSO, YMCA, and Parks and Recreation. PUSD Superintendent Kevin Kapp said he wants to begin these activities as soon as possible.

Board member Andy Newton commended Saint-Amour for wanting to implement club-style athletics at Northpoint, adding he believes the activities would take off quickly. Joan Fleming also complimented Saint-Amour on her research of the matter.

However, Tom Staley opposed aspects of the proposals Kapp and Saint-Amour requested for Northpoint, including the fee schedule, the graduation requirements, and the athletics.

He said his biggest concern with the athletics is that Northpoint's teams will not be able to find practice fields; currently, other teams have a difficult time securing fields for themselves. He also said if Northpoint is a philosophically different school than Prescott High School, as Kapp and Saint-Amour said, perhaps Northpoint does not need athletics. Additionally, with its smaller number of students, he said the athletic clubs might have difficulty creating full-size teams.

"I'm a huge fan of athletics, but I don't think it works here," Staley said.

However, Saint-Amour pointed out the athletic clubs the school teams joined are responsible for booking the fields, and therefore finding practice space will not be an issue.

Staley also questioned having two sets of graduation requirements for Northpoint and Prescott High School. The current graduation requirements for Northpoint, on which the board will vote next week, call for 25 credits, including four years of math, four years of social studies, two years of a foreign language, two years of fine arts, and a passage portfolio - all requirements to enter college.

Prescott High Principal Totsy McCraley said her school's graduation credits total 22, with three years of math, three-and-a-half years of social studies, six elective credits, and no fine arts or foreign language classes required. Kapp noted the high school graduation requirements for Arizona demand 20 credits.

Staley said Prescott High students would not lose out by having an additional year of math. Board president Steve Campbell answered that Prescott serves all students while Northpoint serves strictly college bound students.

Staley questioned the fee schedule as well, asking why it did not include certain costs, such as the price of the school uniform. Saint-Amour said certain costs vary for certain families and the current fee schedule is definitive across the board. The schedule includes fees for adventure/fitness, fine arts, foreign language, and a science lab.

As part of the meeting, board members talked about either leasing or buying an additional 100 laptops for the sophomore class this year, a grade that did not exist in 2006-07. Board members will vote on these issues during the next meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 14.

Contact the reporter at slopatin@prescottaz.com

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