Proposed Bill Allows Private School Athletes On Public School Teams

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ARKANSAS (KTHV) – A bill proposed by state lawmakers could have a huge impact on the classification of Arkansas high schools and their athletic programs.

House bill 1243 would allow private school students to enroll in an after school activity at their assigned public school if their own school doesn’t offer it. The 5NEWS Little Rock sister station, THV11, spoke with students at Little Rock’s Christ Lutheran grade school about the proposal. “I think it would be great if I could go to a public school and play soccer or hockey or something like that,” said 4th grader Legna Cates. “It would be a dream come true for me.”

Christ Lutheran 8th grade basketball coach Gerald Ware says many smaller private schools simply don’t have the enrollment to support all of the different sports offered at public schools. Soccer and baseball are two of the more popular sports not offered at Christ Lutheran. “A lot of those sports would be cost prohibitive for our school to participate in,” he told THV. “If the kid was really wanting to play that particular sport in a school environment, I can certainly see where it would be a valuable thing for the kid to be able to participate in.”

Bill sponsor Rep. Mark Lowery told THV the Arkansas Athletics association has raised some concerns about having to reclassify public schools because this would technically change enrollment numbers. He also believes the bill has a lot of support from other legislators.