Bethel continues discussion on lowering graduation requirements

Published Jan 23, 2013 at 3:32 pm (Updated Jan 23, 2013 at 3:32 pm)

Bethel Park School District officials plan to continue a discussion about lowering the credit requirements for high school graduation at a curriculum committee meeting scheduled for Feb. 6.

District administrators have recommended lowering the requirements from the current 27 credits, although the number of credits has not been decided. Discussion at the Jan. 15 meeting was possibly lowering the credits to 21, the state minimum for high school graduation. According to the district website, students now must complete four credits in the subjects of English, social studies, mathematics and science. They must also complete one credit in physical education and a half credit in health. Two credits in fine/practical arts and seven and a half credits of elective classes round out the requirements.

If the district lowers the number of credits needed, students who wish can still take as many requirements as they choose and the district does not plan to reduce the high level classes, said Donna Cook, board president at the Jan. 22 meeting.

Cook said reducing the number of required classes will give students who need to take remedial classes to pass the state required Keystone Exams time in their schedules. It will also give students time to explore opportunities for apprenticeships and mentoring programs, she said.

“We have to look at quantity verses quality,” said school Director Jim Means. “With 27 credits, we are making kids take classes they don’t want and don’t need.”

Board members have also said that they expect the lowering of the credit requirements to result in a cost savings for the district. The changes being considered would be phased in beginning with ninth graders entering the high school and the district would see the savings over time, through staff attrition or furlough.

“The issue is finances,” said Connie Ruhl, a member of the school board.

Todd Brownfield, a resident and parent, told board members that residents need more information about the proposal.

“I would hate to see an lowering of standards,” he said.

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