The USD 490 Board of Education approved graduation requirement changes

Future graduates in USD 490 will have some slightly different requirements to meet to earn their degree.

The USD 490 Board of Education approved graduation requirement changes during their meeting Monday evening.

"We are not increasing any graduation requirements for any students currently enrolled," said Kevin House, El Dorado High School principal. "We are making some changes for current freshmen and sophomores.

"This discussion started when we learned the [Kansas] Board of Regents is changing their admission requirements for graduates in 2015."

One change by Regents was to add a fourth math credit or an ACT score of 21 or better in math. This would mean students have to take one class above algebra II.

Looking at surrounding districts, El Dorado is currently at 23 1/2 credits to graduate, while Wellington requires 26, Mulvane at 24 and discussing an increase, Maize at 28, Circle at 29, Clearwater moving to 28 and now back at 26, Bluestem at 24 and Augusta at 25 and moving to 28 for the class of 2017.

In the proposal, there would not be any changes for juniors at EHS.

House said they were asking to change the attendance requirement, requiring students to be enrolled full time the first seven semesters of high school, which would take them through the first semester their senior year. Currently, some students are on partial schedules. Taking college classes would count toward full-time enrollment.

"We have a lot of students not counting as full-time students in that fall semester," House said. "In the long run, we want to continue to offer the December completion. It's a great incentive for kids."

He said if the graduation requirements are changed there is no way a student could graduate at seven semesters without taking a full schedule.

They are asking for that requirement for the class of 2015.

Then for the classes of 2016 and 2017, they are asking for a substitution. They are taking away a half-credit elective and adding a half-credit required class.

"That class is a personal finance class of some sort," House said.

That class can fall in three departments: consumer economics, economics class or lifetime math class. Students would take this class either the second semester of their junior year or the first semester of their senior year.

"We want to see those lifetime math skills," House said.

Then for the class of 2018, they are increasing requirements by one credit in either math or science.

Those students in the class of 2019 also will have one additional elective class, which will be encouraged to be a foreign language, although they can choose.

"Early graduation is going to have to be planned freshman year," House said, adding that it was still possible.

"I like that you kept that as an elective," said Superintendent Sue Givens of the additional class. "I think electives are what drive a lot of students in school."

"I think the idea of making them be full-time students for seven semesters is a good idea," added Board Member Cathy Cooper.

The board approved the new graduation plan 5-0. BOE members Scott Starkey and Tom Storrer were absent.

In other business, the board:

• heard an update from Julie Jensen, director of curriculum, about new measurable objectives, which is the new way the state is providing data to districts. The Web site includes six assessment measurable objectives of achievement, growth, reduction of non-proficient, gap reduction, graduation rates and participation rate (on state tests). It also includes an AMO summary report for the district or per building, as well as has the ability to compare a district to other districts in the state.

• heard a report from BOE Member Bernie Spradling on the KASB Convention.

• approved the EMS dedication program.

• approved the Friends of Education nominees.

For community/civic organization they nominated the American Legion Post 81 and the Auxiliary.

The business/partner activities nominee was Casey's General Store at 12th and Main.

The public sector institution nominee was for the Kansas Department of Corrections for the prisoners who do work for the district.

"We never lack for organizations and people to nominate," Givens said.

• approved a resolution terminating USD 490 as the sponsoring district for the Butler County Coop and approved a new interlocal agreement with the other eight school districts in the county. They also appointed Spradling to the Butler County Interim Cooperative Board and appointed Deb Wheeler as alternate.

• reviewed policy.

• this Saturday a moving van will move about half of the things in the middle school to the new building. Teachers will be in on Dec. 19 and 20, then on Dec. 21, the rest of the items will be moved. They will be trying to close the old middle school the week of Christmas. On Jan. 3, there will be a motivational presentation for teachers to kick off the new semester. The dedication of the school will be at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 6.

Julie Clements can be reached at