• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Board discusses graduation rules

The Woodford County Board of Education discussed a proposed policy change on Monday night that will not increase the number of credits required to graduate from Woodford County High School to 28.

Students are currently required to earn at least 26 credits to graduate, but that number was set to increase to 28 credits beginning with the 2018 graduating class under the current graduation policy. One of the justifications for not increasing the graduation requirement from 26 to 28 credits was creating "a dilemma" for transfer students who may not have an opportunity to earn as many credits at their former school as they are able to do under block scheduling at WCHS, said Chief Academic Officer Jimmy Brehm. He said credit requirements may also affect transfer students before their senior year by making them ineligible for athletics and other extracurricular activities because they did not earn the required number of credits (during their freshman, sophomore or junior years at a previous school) to be considered a sophomore, junior or senior at WCHS. WCHS graduates will continue to have the opportunity to earn a "Pre-College Diploma" with 28 credits, or an "Honors Diploma" with 30 credits, under the graduation policy. A proposed provision in the graduation policy would require graduating students who earn 26 credits to successfully complete a job skill proficiency assessment to ensure they are prepared to enter the workforce. "I like the idea of every student having the opportunity to earn that kind of certificate or being required to earn that kind of certificate," said board member Sherri Springate, "because even if they are going into college, a lot of kids have part-time jobs in college or part-time jobs over the summer or they have to do work-study in college. And I just think those soft skills are just really good life skills that would be good for all of our kids - even the college kids." Other board members agreed, and asked Brehm to revise the policy to include a job skills proficiency requirement for all students graduating from WCHS. He was also instructed to specify the number of credits required in each subject area to graduate. Before the board agreed that any changes to the current graduation policy will not take effect until next school year and a first reading of a revised policy would not happen until March, Springate did raise a concern related to the difficulty faced by some students in the alternative school program who may struggle to earn 26 credits due to life circumstances. She suggested the board may want to consider allowing those students to graduate with the state-minimum requirement of 22 credits. While the option of only requiring 24 credits to graduate was discussed, schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins said online and other opportunities allow students to progress toward earning 26 credits if they are in the alternative school setting. He said those opportunities will likely increase next school year when students from the Methodist Home are no longer attending school here. Its residential treatment program and other youth services are slated to relocate to new facilities in Jessamine County by next school year. "It's going to be a different group of kids (at our Safe Harbor Academy alternative school setting) next year - a completely different group of kids," said Hawkins. In addition to students being placed in the alternative setting for behavioral issues, Brehm said, students and their parents will likely have an opportunity to apply for a transfer to Safe Harbor Academy next school year if a traditional high school setting does not work for them. He said students could also have the option to learn in a night school/virtual education environment, which would allow them to work at their own pace while also having access to instructors. Night school/virtual education would give students some flexibility so they could have a job during the day and do their schoolwork at nontraditional times. "We're super-excited about it," said Brehm of the work-in-progress to recreate the district's alternative school program. Financial report Woodford County Public Schools began January with a total cash balance of $14.93 million and ended the month with $14.61 million, according to Chief Operating Officer Amy Smith's financial report. A transfer from the building fund to the district debt service fund was for a bond payment of $402,409.38. A district activity fund showed that $7,869 was spent to make repairs to student computer tablets: Chromebooks and iPads. Those dollars came out of a one-to-one insurance fund, which had a cash balance of $80,948.95 at month's end. Because the dollars in the insurance fund are financed by fees charged to parents, board members Springate and Debby Edelen asked for assurance that those dollars are only being spent on repairs for one-to-one devices being used by students. Director of Technology Bob Gibson acknowledged that dollars were spent on repairs to iPad devices used by Woodford County Middle School sixth-graders in the classroom. Because those students do not take the devices home with them, their parents were not charged a fee like the parents of older middle and high school students who can bring their devices home as participants in the district's one-to-one program. Edelen asked Gibson not to spend insurance fund dollars to pay for repairs on sixth-grade iPads in the future. 'Attendance Madness' Beginning on Feb. 27, the district will launch an attendance competition involving 32 "teams" - every grade level at each school and Safe Harbor Academy. Each team in "Attendance Madness" will compete against a team in its bracket each week to see which has the highest attendance for that week. The winner advances to the next bracket. The competition will continue through March 31, with the winning team receiving a flag to hang in its classroom or hallway. Also, a perfect attendance prize drawing will be held for eligible students at the end of the five-week competition.

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