• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

High school graduation requirements mulled again

A motion by Sherri Springate to create a 24-credit-hour diploma for students graduating from Safe Harbor Academy (the district's alternative school) failed by a 2 to 3 vote, with Karen Brock, Margie Cleveland and Debby Edelen voting no. The Woodford County Board of Education currently requires a student to earn a minimum of 26 credit hours in order to graduate from high school, which Springate said most school districts in Kentucky do not require. "If we don't help every child in Woodford County graduate and be college or career-ready then we've failed a segment of the population," said Springate on Monday night. Students who only meet state minimums, however, will most likely not complete enough courses in a pathway to be college or career ready, Chief Academic Officer Jimmy Brehm said. The Kentucky Department of Education requires a minimum of 22 credit hours to graduate, and all Kentucky high school graduates must earn credits in four subject areas: language arts (four credits), math (three credits), science (three credits), social studies (three credits) and health/physical education (one credit). Students in Woodford County who meet state-minimum requirements are already eligible for a diploma under the district's hardship policy, said schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins, but he pointed out that students who do not graduate are typically deficient in the core-subject state requirements. Beginning next school year, students at Safe Harbor will have an opportunity to earn eight credits a year under a new schedule that mirrors Woodford County High School's block schedule, said Brehm. He said Safe Harbor students will also have the opportunity to earn an additional (performance) credit each year. The four-year graduation rate for Woodford County high school students was only 90.2 in the 2014-15 school year, but that percentage has hovered around 98 percent in the years before and since (97.2 percent in 2012-13, 98.2 percent in 2013-14 and 98 percent in 2015-16), according to graduation data collected for Hawkins and provided to board members, who directed the superintendent to gather additional data on why students in the district failed to earn their high school diplomas in four years. Graduation location Hawkins informed board members that a pending agreement with two other school districts - Franklin and Scott counties - will allow Woodford County High School and three other high schools (in those other counties) to hold graduation ceremonies at the Kentucky Horse Park's Alltech Arena. "With multiple districts sharing some of the expenses (to hold graduation ceremonies there) ... then we can reduce the cost for everyone, but still have a very nice facility..." The three districts, which previously held their ceremonies at the Frankfort Civic Center (scheduled to be torn down this year), will reserve a Saturday (probably on Memorial Day weekend) for graduation. Graduations would more than likely be held at 10 a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. on a rotational basis, Hawkins said. School projects The board voted unanimously to seek contractor bids on installing a walkway cover (canopy) over a student pickup area at Southside Elementary School, and upgrading door knob hardware at both Southside and Northside elementary schools to meet ADA requirements. Both projects have been approved by the Kentucky Department of Education. Adult education The board approved restructuring two adult education positions from part-time to full-time. With this approval and a loss of a $10,000 grant, the general fund allocation for Woodford County Adult Education will increase by $20,400, according to information provided to board members. School redistricting Board members agreed to table a decision on moving forward with four minor adjustments to the boundaries for school board districts until they can have a work session to further discuss the possible changes. Under the current proposal being considered, the five districts represented by each board member would become more balanced than the current boundaries, with the population gap between smallest and largest districts being reduced from 1,300 to about 500. The school board's attorney suggested making adjustments to the boundaries so each board member represents an equal or similar number of voters. More extensive adjustments to the district boundaries can be made when new 2020 census data is available. KSBA The board voted unanimously to renew its membership to the Kentucky School Boards Association (KSBA) through June 2018, but directed Hawkins to explore options if the board ended its membership next year. The superintendent was asked to give the board a report in January on the cost of services (currently provided by KSBA) if an outside provider is hired. Wilson, who made the motion to renew the board's KSBA membership, said he and Hawkins met with the interim executive director of KSBA, Kerry Schelling, for about an hour last week and talked about the local board's concerns related to its membership. With new leadership at KSBA, Wilson said, he and Hawkins are confident that the local board will see some improvements in how the association provides training and services over the next 12 months.

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