School board sets graduation requirements

ALAMOSA — Beginning with the graduating class of 2021, all Alamosa High School and Alamosa Ombudsman School of Excellence students need 25.5 credits to graduate. The new policy was proposed in April and passed after a third reading during the district’s board meeting Monday evening.

Each student will take three math credits, four English credits, three social studies credits, three science credits, one foreign language credit, one fine art credit, eight elective credits and 1.5 credits of physical education. They will also take one semester of health and one semester of a college and career readiness class, which replaces the Web 2.0 class.

The new class aimed for juniors teaches resume building, job interview skills, financial literacy and SAT preparation.

Before the change students needed 24 credits. Only seven credits of electives and one credit of PE were required.

To become a sophomore a student needs six credits. To become a junior they need 12.5 credits, up from 12, and 19, up from 18, credits are needed to become a senior.

The largest change is the introduction of three pathways for graduating students. “The perspective is that one size doesn’t fit all,” said AHS Principal Andrew Lavier when proposing the change in April. “We want students to have different pathways because not every student wants to go to college. Some kids want to join the military, some kids want to join the workforce.

“Kids should have different options so there should be different ways to demonstrate that they’re ready for careers and college.”

The majority of students will take all required classes and have at least a SAT score of 430 in English and 460 in math. If they took the ACT, which is no longer freely administered by the state, they would need a score of 18 in English and 19 in math. They could also have at least a score of 2 in advance placement tests or an industry certificate such as one earned from the school’s new Teen Tech Academy.

However, if they didn’t want to go to college and didn’t meet the readiness guidelines then students could complete a capstone project. The capstone is 40 hours of work, volunteering or mentorship. The principal or guidance office must verify the hours before the second semester.

“If a kid works at a grocery store we’d ask them to come up with a plan within those 40 hours that they learn a new job skill, or mentor an elementary student, or internship with an industry,” said Lavier.

“The point of the capstone isn’t to punish a kid. The point is for them to learn something and take on a new experience and benefit from it.”

The final path allows for students to test out of required courses. The student would need to score a 23 on ACT’s English, reading and writing section and a 23 in the math and science portion. If taking the SAT then it would be scores of 530 for both halves of the test.

Seniors now also have to prove they deserve a free hour without a scheduled class. They need to be enrolled in seven classes during their final year, up from five. In order to get a free hour they must enroll in two AP or honors classes or meet SAT benchmarks. A working, mentoring or volunteering student can earn a free hour for 10 hours of work.

“There needs to be a bonafide reason why a kid would have a free hour,” Lavier said.

Students may also earn half of a PE credit if they letter in a varsity sport. Each sport can only count one time and all students must take at least one semester of PE.

“We thought that would open up some options for them to take an art class, band or another academic class.” Lavier also said that a student who letters out of PE could then use the time to be a personal trainer or coach for their capstone.

Also passed in the meeting’s blanket motion was the budget adoption for the 2017-2018 fiscal year and revision of last year’s budget. The $17,425,000 general fund budget is an $875,000 increase from the 2016-2017 revised budget.

The increase reflects a 1.25 percent salary increase, 5 percent insurance increase, a purchase of new buses and money received from the passage of Senate Bill 267.

“Our one time dollar amount [from SB 267] came out to equal $401,249,” said Superintendent Robert Alejo on Monday. “Some of that money was built in to offset needs for additional staff members to reduce classroom size.”

The budget goes into effect on July 1 and a revision will be proposed next January.

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