USD 457 approves graduation requirement changes




Graduation requirements will be changing for USD 457 students in alternate education.

The board unanimously approved a requirement change Monday night that will lessen the credits needed for students at the Garden City Alternate Education Center to graduate.

The board approved the change at a regularly-scheduled board meeting.

Mark Ronn, principal of the GCAE, said the requirement change mostly is in electives.

He said the basic change is that students attending the alternate school will be able to graduate with 21 credits required by the state of Kansas as opposed to the 26.5 that are required at Garden City High School.

"The bulk of the credit reduction is in electives," he said.

Ronn said the reason behind that change is to make graduating more possible for some students.

"We've had a fair amount of students drop out during senior year. What we're trying to do is not make things easy for them but make things possible," he said.

Ronn said he has students in his program for a variety of reasons.

"And for reasons of their own they also want to proceed with life, whether it's a career, family, to go on in education. This is a way for them to meet that goal quickly and meet all state requirements," he said.

The 21-credit requirement will be implemented this year with students already in the program and also for students transferring in.

"We're not going to be keeping anyone from getting the 26-credit diploma if they wish, but this is an option. It's their choice," he said.

At a retreat Saturday, board members discussed the policy.

Mark Rude, board member, said the discussion was informative.

"I thought we had a great discussion on Saturday. It makes a lot of sense to me what you're proposing to do. We've got outstanding kids and an outstanding program. This is a very appropriate change to the requirements for graduation. It makes so much sense I can't help but be enthused," he said.

Jean Clifford, board president, agreed.

"I am in favor of revising this policy. I think it's time for the change. It's an appropriate change for the students," she said.

Also at the meeting, Glenda LaBarbera, Kenneth Henderson Middle School principal, along with a team of middle school teachers, gave a presentation on how students are using technology to learn Common Core curriculum that includes higher level thinking.

The educators gave a multimedia presentation on how students use technology in science and reading classes.

Students are drawing more conclusions and expressing those conclusions using technology for reading, writing and science problems, the teachers said.

Rude said the teachers are responding quickly to the change from Adequate Yearly Progress under No Child Left Behind to Common Core Standards.

"I'm just amazed how you all are implementing Common Core with technology," he said.

In other business, according to meeting documents, Kathleen Whitley, financial officer, has officially announced her retirement, effective July 31, 2013.

Whitley was absent from Monday's meeting. Gloria Hopkins, board member, also was absent.

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