By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
Findlay school board on Monday approved a new policy on graduation requirements that reflects the state Legislature’s decision not to extend relaxed requirements for additional classes.
The class of 2018 was the first class that had to take seven end-of-course tests. Low graduation rates were predicted statewide, including at Findlay, where then-high school Principal Craig Kupferberg said in March 2017 that 30 percent of the class of 2018 was in danger of not graduating.
That was before a panel that included Kupferberg proposed, and the state adopted, a set of relaxed requirements for students who could not pass the end-of-course tests.
Those students could still graduate if they took all seven tests, and met two other requirements from a list of nine. Among the alternate requirements were a 93 percent senior year attendance rate, a 2.5 senior year grade point average, and work or community service experience.
The state school board voted in January to recommend extending those alternate requirements to the classes of 2019 and 2020. The state Legislature has not chosen to do so.
“That was a one-shot, one-year deal for the class of 2018,” said Rich Steiner, Findlay’s director of secondary instruction. “So now, 2019, we’re back to what was originally established.”
Superintendent Ed Kurt said after the meeting that he had hoped the relaxed requirements would be available for a few more years and end with a gradual phaseout.
Two other pathways to graduation were newly available to the class of 2018 and are still in place.
Students can earn ACT or SAT scores that are “remediation-free,” or indicate that students are prepared for college classes.
Or students can earn an industry-recognized career credential — such as a becoming a certified welder by the American Welding Society’s standards — and a score of 13 or better on the WorkKeys assessment. WorkKeys is a three-part test on reading, applied mathematics and locating information.
For the classes of 2020 and beyond, the WorkKeys score requirement increases to 14.
Each of the three pathways — end-of-course tests, college-ready test scores or industry credentials — is in addition to earning a minimum of 20 high school credits.
Separately Monday, the school board approved a memorandum of understanding with Kawaguchi schools in Japan, which will send two exchange students to Findlay High School for the 2019-2020 school year.
Kurt signed the agreement as part of last week’s “Friendship City” announcement. Findlay Mayor Lydia Mihalik and Kawaguchi Mayor Nobuo Okunoki unveiled a rock monument to the friendship at Riverside Park on Thursday.
Findlay City Schools will learn in January which two Japanese students will be coming, Kurt said after the meeting. The district may place them with staff members who have similarly aged children, he said, but other families interested in hosting the students can contact the high school.
The partnership between the school districts will also include Findlay High School students studying in Japan and possibly up to 20 students visiting Findlay for 10-day English-immersion programs.
Separately, Kurt presented a plaque to several Lowe’s managers as a thank-you for the work that the “Lowe’s Heroes” program did at Findlay High School and Jefferson Primary School.
The high school courtyard walkways were replaced, and the Lowe’s volunteers added a pergola, water feature and shed for lawn equipment.
At Jefferson, they added a sensory room for students with autism and a fence around part of the playground to help those students feel less overstimulated outside. A pirate ship and fairy garden were also built outside.
Cabinets and desks that fold down from the walls were installed in hallways.
“It was just like an extreme makeover,” said Jefferson Primary Principal Kim Plesec.
More than 200 employees from 13 stores and the Lowe’s distribution center in Findlay volunteered. The labor and donated materials from Lowe’s and other companies, such as restaurants that provided lunch, totaled around $100,000.