Of all the changes being discussed in the wake of , few would have more direct impact on students than changes to the graduation requirements.
We talked to board President Arvid Johnson about three of the graduation requirement changes being considered. The current schedule of classes a Lincoln-Way student must take is attached to this article as a pdf document.
One change Johnson said is unlikely would save millions of dollars. Two other changes that would give parents and students more flexibility in choosing elective credits wouldn't affect the budget much if at all.
Cutting Credit Requirements
Idea: Cutting graduation requirements from 22 credits to 20.
Potential Saving: An estimated $1 million in 2012-13, followed by savings of $2.2 million, $3.4 million and $5.2 million.
Will the board vote on it: Not yet.
The board wasn't keen on this idea when Superintendent Lawrence Wyllie presented it at the recent special meeting, Johnson said.
"From the comments of the board it didn't look like anyone was really in favor of that," the board president said.
Requiring fewer credits to graduate would cut between 18 and 23 positions each of the next four years because fewer teachers would be needed. However, some parents at the meeting said it could hurt their students' chances of getting into their college of choice.
Johnson said this one is unlikely to happen, but not impossible.
"That would be a pretty dramatic change to the district, but unfortunately we are facing some pretty dramatic budget challenges," he said.
Changing Extra Class Fees
Idea: Reducing zero hour fees and upping summer school fees.
Potential Saving: Unknown, but marginal if any.
Will the board vote on it: Yes, this Thursday.
Students who want to take extra electives to become more attractive to their college of choice (or just because they like the topic) have two options: summer school or a before-school "zero hour" class.
One credit from a summer school class (two sessions) costs $330. One credit from a zero hour class (two semesters) costs $500.
The board will vote this Thursday on whether to make that credit cost $350 either way.
"People need to know this because they're starting to register for summer school," Johnson said.
If the board approves the change, there would be less money from each individual zero-hour student, but hopefully the lower cost would mean more zero-hour students, Johnson said.
The slight increase in summer school revenue could help make up some of the difference, he said.
"This should be a wash and it should be budget-neutral," Johnson said.
Idea: Changing how electives are grouped.
Potential Saving: $0
Will the board vote on it: Maybe. The first reading will be this Thursday. If the board likes the idea, they'll schedule a vote on it for a later meeting, possibly the Feb. 23 meeting at .
While the zero hour/summer school fee change would have little budget impact, this idea would have none.
Each Lincoln-Way student must take one fine arts elective, one career and technical education elective and two other electives in any category to graduate.
An option Wyllie proposed would make one change to that: Instead of requiring one fine arts and one career and technical education elective, the district could require one fine arts or one career and technical education elective.
"Students are still taking the same number of courses. What could happen is students might take a lot more music and a lot less industrial tech," Johnson said. "Dollar for dollar, there is no financial impact."
Why is the district in financial trouble? Read to find out more.