The Tempe Union High School District governing board has approved dozens of new courses for the 2009-10 school year.
Many of the classes were planned for students when classes began this past August, but the failed maintenance and operations budget override in 2007 put them on hold.
On Tuesday, the override passed. With that in place, the board moved forward during Wednesday's meeting to make the classes available when students begin preregistration in January.
"I think many of our courses address our vision, preparing our students for the ever changing world," said Cecilia Johnson, director of curriculum, instruction/assessment.
Johnson pointed to new math courses, including Integrated Algebra & Chem-Physics. The class helps students apply algebraic equations in a science setting, Johnson said.
"The student then understands the interconnectiveness of math and science," she said.
The Payne Academy will be the first school in the district to offer Mandarin Chinese.
"We recognize the importance of Mandarin Chinese in the world and how it's become so popular in the universities," said Laura Zinke, gifted program coordinator for the Payne Academy and McClintock High School. The academy, a program for gifted students, is housed at McClintock.
Students completing the class may qualify to take the Advanced Placement College Board exam to receive college credit. The academy requested all four years of Chinese be added to the curriculum. But the first year will be for level one, and then each year following an additional level will be added.
Twelve of the new classes at Tempe High School are being offered in anticipation of the school becoming a World International Baccalaureate School. There are more than 80 students now enrolled in what are called "pre-IB" classes to prepare them for the rigorous courses they'll take should they enroll in the program beginning their junior year.
Scott Greenhalgh, who is overseeing the process of Tempe High becoming an IB school, said the courses being added are part of IB schools worldwide. He called the interest in adding the IB program in the Tempe Union High School Districts "significant."
"We have seen a very distinct interest in both the IB program itself and some of the other things we're offering at Tempe High," he said, pointing out the HOPE program for students interested in medical careers and the new biotechnology program.
"They have both benefited from the interest in IB as we go around talking to parents and students alike," he said.
While the HOPE program is exclusive to Tempe High, biotechnology also is offered at McClintock, Marcos de Niza, Corona del Sol and Desert Vista high schools. As part of that biotechnology program, the governing board added a new level of applied botany to the curriculum.
"Now we will have a second year for our students to help them not only for research in higher education but for lab technician (positions) which is a major area that is up and coming," Johnson said. "We need to be contributing to the work force in that area."
Board member Zita Johnson said the new class offerings would not be possible without the positive vote given to the override this week.
In Arizona, school spending is limited by state statute and based on student enrollment. Voters can approve a seven-year override to tax themselves the funds needed to give districts up to a 10 percent budget boost.
"I'm thrilled about the overrides passing so we're able to move forward with these things, some of which have been under consideration for a couple of years," Johnson said. "The process of adopting new curriculum is such a rigorous, rigorous process. It's a hard-working committee."
During Wednesday's meeting, the board also heard a proposal to increase the number of credits required for graduation from 21 to 23 to meet state law starting for the graduating class of 2013. The board is expected to vote on the increase at its meeting Nov. 19.
The change includes adding an additional math credit, to increase it from three to four credits, and adding a science credit, to require one year of physical science, one year of life science and one year of additional science.