El Dorado High School (EHS) Principal Kevin House addressed the board of education at the meeting on Monday, Jan. 8 to discuss graduation requirement changes in the future. He explained that the EHS Class of 2019 will need one more elective credit to graduate than the class of 2018.

"In 2015, our students needed 23 and one half credits [to graduate] .... This year, the class of 2018, they will have to have 25 credits. The only change that we're making for the class of 2018 to 2019 is we're going to go to 26 credits – and we're adding one elective credit for the class of 2019. So these students have known about it since they were freshmen. This has been part of the handbook," House said.

Although the credits requirement will increase, EHS students will still have some flexibility with taking the classes they'll need or want.

"If a student passes all their classes, they can pick up 32 credits [before graduating]. They can pick up eight credits each year, so there's a possibility of 32. So, 26 allows them some room for some mistakes, if you will – we all make them. But it also allows them to take some classes that they might just want to enjoy. As well as, it allows for some students – if they work hard – to be a December completer and, also, to take some work release or some senior release their senior year. So, the only change in graduation requirements from '18 to '19 is that we're adding one elective credit," House said.

Julie Jensen, executive director of curriculum, presented this year's K-12 summer programs for consideration.

"This year, our teachers turned in 36 different course presentations – which is an increase from last year of about 30. They cover [grades] K, two, three, five, six, eight, nine and 12. We actually have 22 courses for the kindergarten through second grade, 29 for the third through fifth, 18 for the middle school – that's great – and what's exciting: there's actually nine for the high school," she said.

Drivers education is one of the summer school programs. When the board approved the programs, they reduced the fee for driver's ed. from $150 to $120 for students in the El Dorado school district. Students outside the district will continue paying a larger drivers ed. fee.

The regular summer academy cost remained at $40 for the month, and it's free for some students who wouldn't normally be able to enroll. Course recovery is still $10 for the first course and $15 or $20 for additional courses.

Doug Jensen, executive director of technology for El Dorado public schools, provided an update on construction progress. Trees at the new performing arts center have been relocated, and concrete has been poured in the dressing rooms and backstage area. Drywall finish at the two new elementary buildings is in progress, and heating should be up and running in the next month.

Later in the meeting, the school board extended Superintendent Sue Givens' contract through 2020. The terms of her contract don’t change with this extension.

The board also approved the following USD 490 personnel recommendations:

Tia Keplinger employed as a Title I Aide at Skelly Elementary Brenda Jill Carr replacing Gail Williams as a health room secretary at EHS Lisa Lechtenberg resigning from being a Title I Teacher at Grandview Elementary Sherry Hermreck retiring from being an art teacher at El Dorado Middle School James O’Shields hired as a substitute teacher

Near the start of the meeting, the school board recognized EHS students involved in debate and forensics for their inclusion in the National Speech & Debate 100 Club. Coach Melisa Wingfield explained the significance of the club.

"The National Speech and Debate Association has an honor program, and kids, though competition, they earn points. And those points get them recognitions at different levels .... So, the 100 club means that the whole squad together has a hundred memberships and degrees .... It's 'cause they work hard, and so they like to acknowledge [that] – because smaller schools have a harder time getting large numbers of memberships and degrees. So, for a school our size to get 100 is, really, pretty good," Wingfield said.

This year, there are about 48 kids in debate and a similar amount in forensics. Some are the same students doing both.

The new school board members at Monday's meeting were Heather Nichols and Sharon Waugh. They filled positions vacated by previous board members Bernie Spradling and Scott Starkey.

The board approved Tim Connell, the Susan B. Allen Memorial Hospital and the YMCA as the nominees for the 2018 USD 490 Friends of Education Awards, which are sponsored by the Confidence in Kansas Public Education Task Force. They are yearly awards, and the nominees will be recognized at the February school board meeting.