NEWS: Lawrence School Board Decides on Latest High School Graduation Requirements

Lawrence school board makes final decision on what graduation prerequisites they will employ on top of state-wide requirements
Valedictorians of the Free State Class of 2023 stand proudly as they are honored during the graduation ceremony on May 24, 2023.
Valedictorians of the Free State Class of 2023 stand proudly as they are honored during the graduation ceremony on May 24, 2023.
Chloe Cook

This past Monday, Jan. 22., the Lawrence School Board met in order to decide on what new graduation requirements they are going to implement.

Initially, this decision became part of the committee’s agenda for Jan. 8 after being prompted by the Kansas Board of Education’s approval of the additions. However, weather conditions with a growing intensity caused the board to move the report to a later date. The meeting did still occur for a brief period of time, but was shortened even more after the members received a non-credible bomb threat.

After the delay, taking into account feedback from the community, a decision on what the future graduation prerequisites for USD 497 will entail came with the group’s meeting on Monday.

The state-wide new requirements, approved in November 2022 by the KSBE for the class of 2028 and later, will combine ELA with communications, totaling 4 credits, with .5 units of communications classes and 3.5 units of English language arts required. Communications classes will include courses like journalism, speech, debate, forensics and public speaking.

The state also now requires that students complete an additional STEM elective credit, .5 financial planning credit, and two “postsecondary assets.”  Postsecondary assets will include activities and accomplishments such as community service, JROTC, CTE scholar, a 90% school attendance rate and youth apprenticeships. The FAFSA will also be a requirement, but students and families will have the option to opt out.

In accordance with these ideas, the district chose to include all of what the state recommends, with an extra 2.5 credits of electives and .5 a credit of career and postsecondary planning. These conditions are set to be utilized for the class of 2028 and later, in an effort to better prepare students for life after high school, no matter what they plan to do.

Marc Conover, a counselor at Free State, gave some of his thoughts on the new changes. When talking about them, he noted a basic premise around some of the new requirements and their usefulness extending into their adult life.

“The idea is to, hopefully, prevent some bad habits moving forward once they’re out of high school, hopefully helping them down the line,” Conover said.

Moreover, after helping with this decision, Kelly Jones, current Lawrence School Board president, stated that, looking back on her younger life, she would have liked to have had what the new course requirements are aiming to give to students with the financial planning .5 credit.

“I am likewise pleased to see the inclusion of a financial literacy course in the 11th grade. I certainly could have used that guidance as a young adult,” Jones said.

The Lawrence school district will add all of these requirements starting with next year’s freshman— the graduating class of 2028. More information can be found at USD 497 graduation requirements.

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