Failure of levy would be disaster for varsity underclass

"One of the biggest questions being asked around South Kitsap is what options students have if the levy fails.After talking with local and state-wide officials, it turns out everyone but student-athletes have red tape to cut through.The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association has strict rules against transferring for the sole purpose of keeping schools from recruiting players from other schools.The WIAA handbook states the purpose of the Transfer Rule is to protect, rather than inhibit, students who participate in athletic competition...the rule is preventative in nature and is devised to eliminate the incentive to transfer schools when a motivation is for athletic purposes and after a student has initially chosen the school of his/her choice while he/she has been living with the family unit. The Transfer Rule protects students who have previously participated in athletic competition at a member school from being replaced by students who transfer for athletic purposes and further protects students at other member schools from the affects of 'school shopping' by students and recruiting by member schools and their agents.One rule that has given special circumstances to eligibility is the hardship rule.But WIAA committee chairman Terry Cavender said a levy failure would not constitute a hardship.A student-athlete who has played a varsity sport can transfer to another school, but would have to sit out a year before being eligible to play at the new school.In other words, a sophomore varsity player could spend his junior year at another school but could not play sports until his senior year.Any student-athlete who has not played a varsity sport is eligible to play the following year at the new school, whether it be junior varsity or varsity.This year's junior class of varsity athletes is the one that would be hardest hit because they would be ineligible to play during their senior year.SK superintendent Bill Lahmann said there is nothing in the law that can keep local students from transferring to another school because South Kitsap has open enrollment. But no athlete who has played varsity could play for a year, he said.Under the current rules, there is only one solution.If the family moves to a new school district the student-athlete can participate the ensuing school year.Cavender said the rule is very clear.It has to be the primary family residence, Cavender said. You can't have dad rent an apartment and have mom stay in the former residence. There's nothing that says you have to sell your house, but you must vacate it and live in the new residence.Many families who have children involved with sports will then have to make a choice.Would they rent a home in a new school district and stay there until their children play out their high school career?Would they try to sell their house and permanently move into a new house in a different school district?Or will they stand pat?Another question that comes into play are the involvement with local private schools such as Bellarmine Prep and King's West.Bellarmine Athletic Director Ed Ploos said it is unlikely Bellarmine would admit any students from South Kitsap because there is already a waiting list to get into the school.It's not going to happen, Ploos said. We don't have the room. We have kids on a waiting list. Our philosophy is that we want you to come to Bellarmine for academic reasons.Lahmann said some families prepared ahead of time in case the levy failed.Some parents put their kids on waiting lists last spring just in case the levy fails, Lahmann said. I know of some families who said they will leave if the levy fails but stay if it passes. Ploos said any varsity athlete at SK would have to sit out a year just like any other school before playing a varsity sport at Bellarmine.In the WIAA handbook it states residency for Bellarmine is in a 50-mile radius, which clearly includes South Kitsap County. But Ploos said that rule is in effect for families who have just moved into town and have not committed to a school yet.While Bellarmine is at capacity, King's West has seen its enrollment decrease this year, but Oliver said there is still very little room for more students.Even if there was room, Oliver said the rules apply the same to private schools and public schools. Unless you change residency you are ineligible for one year, Oliver said about varsity athletes. Kids that are below sophomore eligibility is not a problem. Coming in as a ninth grader or sophomore is not an issue. But juniors and seniors would have to have an eligibility hearing.Cavender said no one in the schools or WIAA is rooting for a levy failure.Hopefully folks will see the need to pass the levy, Cavender said. Kids are too valuable commodity. "

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