Wednesday, August 31, 2005
A committee of school and community officials is being formed to look at graduation requirements for Steamboat Springs School District students.
The committee will meet throughout the fall and early winter so it can make a recommendation for changes to district graduation requirements and educational programs before the School Board's January meetings.
"Really, you're not just setting graduation requirements for high school kids," Superintendent Donna Howell said. "(The discussion) looks at your whole program."
Howell said topics the committee likely will consider include Senior Odyssey; foreign-language programs, including the elementary Spanish program; and proposals for new classes, such as a Bible class, which first was proposed last spring.
The district's physical education graduation requirement might be revisited, because students have asked whether participating in sports could satisfy that requirement.
The math requirement put in place during the most recent review of district graduation requirements also could be revisited in an effort to help people understand it, Howell said. The requirement is for 1 1/2 credits, and students also are required to pass a math proficiency exam. Many students take more than the required number of credits.
The latest in-depth discussion about graduation requirements began about eight years ago, Steamboat Springs High School Principal Mike Knezevich said.
A committee was formed for those discussions and met for 2 1/2 years. This time, the process will be faster and will include people from throughout the district, not just the high school.
Knezevich said he hopes the committee first will be able to identify what its members think students need to learn and then make decisions according to those beliefs. Another key, he said, is remembering that graduation requirements are for all students, regardless of their individual ability levels.
The district is looking for committee volunteers, including a parent of a student from each district school, a representative from the business community, a high school student, a former student and a community member.
The committee also will include two teachers from the high school and one from each of the district's other schools, principals, one representative from Colorado Mountain College and one member of the School Board.
Ann Sims, the district's director of curriculum and instruction, will be the committee's chairwoman. Lynn Kelly will be the facilitator.
Howell said the first step will be to gather information about requirements at other high-performing school districts in the state and nation, what colleges and universities expect from high school graduates and community priorities for what students should learn.
The committee's first meeting is Sept. 27. At that time, committee members will receive packets of information and will discuss the values of the community and the school district.
There will be two meetings in October, two in November and one in December.
The committee then will make a recommendation to Howell, who will make a recommendation to the School Board.
Some changes may not become effective immediately but would affect future student classes.
Anyone interested in being on the committee can e-mail or write a letter to the district or call the district at 879-1530.
-- To reach Susan Cunningham, call 871-4203 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org