After a final public reading, at which no members of the public were present to comment, Delta/Greely School Board members unanimously approved changing the district’s graduation requirements.
Two different diplomas will be available beginning with the class of 2019. The chief difference between the two is the number of credits.
Students who earn the Standard Diploma would complete 22 credits. Those credits are as follows: four language arts, three social studies, two science, three math, one PE, and nine student choice. Students earning a Standard Diploma will not be eligible for valedictorian or salutatorian honors, though that will not become effective until 2020.
The Diploma of Distinction requires 24 credits – 4 language arts, 4 math, 4 science, and 4 social studies. Additionally, students must complete two full credits of either a world language or career-specific courses such as vocational, technology, or fine arts, and the first credit must be a prerequisite to taking the second credit. Rounding out the requirements are one PE credit and five student choice credits.
All students also must successfully complete a recommended financial literacy module such as EverFi or a finance-focused math course such as consumer math or business math.
The main concern board members expressed with the new requirements was the stipulation that students earning the Standard Diploma would not be eligible to be class valedictorian or salutatorian. Several members speculated on how a student might not meet all the qualifications for the Diploma of Distinction but might still have a grade point average high enough to be at the top of the class.
Student Representative Harrison Kiser said he knew of several students in this year’s graduating class who, under the two-tier diploma system, would not be able to be valedictorian or salutatorian because they took a study period in their junior year, thereby making them ineligible for the Diploma of Distinction by not having enough credits.
The board finally settled on approving the two-tier diploma system for 2019, yet putting off the change to valedictorian/salutatorian eligibility until 2020. This change ensures that a member of Class of 2019 who did not have enough credits to earn the Diploma of Distinction could still be the class valedictorian or salutatorian.
The board also took a preliminary look at the budget for fiscal year 2019. Finance Director Kim Johnson explained that the FY19 budget is based on no change in state funding.
Johnson and Superintendent Laural Jackson found nearly $130,000 that could be cut from the coming year’s budget. Cuts include elimination of one full-time equivalent secretary and one full-time equivalent aide.
“Are we hurting ourselves with these cuts?” asked Board President Richard Mauer.
The superintendent responded: “We are in a tight time.”
The FY19 budget as currently written is 72.99 percent instructional. Mauer pointed out that a former state law required school districts to use at least 70 percent of their revenue toward instruction. Though the stipulation is no longer state law, the board still likes to use it as a benchmark that funds are being put toward student instruction first.
As the school year comes to an end, a new student representative was chosen. Keely Harris and Priscilla Joslin were the two candidates; the board chose Joslin as next year’s student representative.
Future meetings include a business meeting on May 24 and a work session on June 7.