The Coffee County Board of Education voted Tuesday to move graduation requirement planning from the spring of the 10th grade year to the spring of the 8th grade year to allow students to better prepare for their post-graduation careers.
Gray Harrison, secondary curriculum supervisor and special programs coordinator, said because so many career-tech and dual-enrollment opportunities are now offered, moving the planning time to the spring before students’ freshman year instead of the spring before their junior year allows them to get a head start in potential post-graduation careers for those who choose to take advantage of the programs.
“Because the four-year plan is established at that time, and we’ve got so many more dual-enrollment and career-tech opportunities and now, it’s a chance for the kids as they get older to do more things as they get their graduation requirements taken care of in their earlier ninth and tenth grade years,” Harrison said.
He also added that the reason they are bringing this particular change to the board’s attention now is because schools are waiting to prepare to hold the 8th grade meetings.
Superintendent Kevin Killingsworth voiced his support for the change.
“We’ve added many, many, many career tech opportunities in the last four years…this is going to help us get the kids a faster start on their careers,” he said.
Other minor changes to the graduation requirements came from the Alabama State Department of Education. They include requiring students to fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form and pass a civics test, and the math sequencing for grades 7-12 were also changed. Harrison said the civics test has always been part of the requirements, but it has not been in the parent-student information guide.
“They’re really very minimal changes for what is on this sheet in comparison to what is in the blue book for the parent-student informational guide we’re currently using this year,” he said.
The diploma options are staying the same—honors endorsement, advanced endorsement and basic diploma—but there have been changes to the qualifications for each diploma. To go from a basic diploma to an advanced diploma, students will have to take a foreign language class. To go from an advanced diploma to an honors diploma, students will have to take a foreign language class, be enrolled in honors curriculum classes and log 30 hours of community service.
In his superintendent’s report, Killingsworth said they are working on additional career-tech opportunities with Elba City Schools that he hopes to be able to talk about openly soon.
He also recognized the teams that are currently competing in post-season play and thanked the system’s employees on a successful year despite the struggles caused by COVID-19.
“I want to say thank you again to all our employees for getting us to this point,” he said. “I never thought we would have May flipped up on the calendar but we have, and now we’ve got just a few short weeks and several things to do to get to the end of the year. They’ve done a phenomenal job with everything going on.
“We’re looking forward to finishing up this school year on a positive note and having our graduations face-to-face like normal, so hopefully that’ll help bring some normalcy back to our communities that each of these schools serve. I appreciate everyone’s efforts.”
In other business, the board voted to hire two summer workers for each school for 30 hours a week, and the next meeting was scheduled for June 3.
The following personnel actions were also approved:
Sally Danford, bus driver at New Brockton School
Robert Speed, teacher, New Brockton High School
Brendan Dow, assistant principal, Kinston School