Chandler won't change graduation terms - East Valley Tribune: News

Chandler won't change graduation terms

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Posted: Thursday, January 29, 2009 12:05 pm | Updated: 1:44 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

The Chandler Unified School District governing board decided Wednesday night not to pursue changes to current graduation requirements for next year's freshmen.

The governing board heard a report from Craig Gilbert, director of secondary education, about how additions may affect students, staff and classroom use.

The Class of 2013 will need 22 credits to graduate, the same number the state requires. A half credit is rewarded for each semester of a course completed with a passing grade.

Because of changing state standards, students must take four units of math and three units of science, one more each than currently required by the state. Those requirements squeeze out elective opportunities, one concern that prompted Wednesday night's discussion.

But in the end, a variety of concerns prompted the governing board not to make immediate changes.

Governing board president Annette Auxier said budget issues were a big reason for her decisions.

"This (would) take additional funds and carving those additional funds out of our current budget would be hard and we know we're going to face cuts next year," she said, referring to the state of Arizona's financial picture. A shortfall of revenue means legislators will likely cut funds from education spending this current school year and next.

Auxier also cited concern about the ability of students to meet additional credit requirements with obligations to religious release time.

"It would really be difficult for those kids. That impacts about 600 kids in our district," she said.

Students who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attend religious class during the school day at a facility near their high school campus. It means they miss out on one class a day. Many make it up by enrolling in a "zero" hour course that begins well before 7 a.m.

Typical students earn six credits each of their freshmen, sophomore and junior years, said district spokesman Terry Locke. That allows seniors to take the minimal four required credits to achieve 22 credits for graduation.

But students across the district's four high schools enroll in more than that each year. With "zero" hour alone, students could have a potential 28 units at graduation. And they may earn more in summer school.

Chandler Unified is not alone in looking at graduation requirements.

This week, the Gilbert Unified School District governing board rescinded a December decision to require next year's freshmen to have 23 credits to earn a diploma. It came on the heels of community outpouring against the measure. The district will follow the state mandate of 22 credits to graduate.

Similar votes to require 23 credits passed with little public concern in Tempe and Queen Creek.

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