School board seeks input for increased credit requirements

By Ian Ferguson

The Blaine school district board of directors is seeking input from the community regarding updates to the comprehensive program plan as they begin to consider ways to meet new graduation requirements imposed by the Washington State Board of Education.

The state is requiring school districts to adopt a 24-credit graduation requirement at the high school level.

Blaine High School currently requires that students earn 22 credits to graduate. The state’s current standards are slightly lower, at 20.5 credits. Blaine High School has six periods in a day, and each course gains a student half a credit per semester. That means students can earn six credits per year, or 24 credits over four years of high school, if they keep a full schedule and pass every class.

Moving to a 24-credit requirement under the current program schedule would leave no margin of error for students to miss out on credits.

“We know that not every student passes every class,” Spanjer said. “We’re looking at how programs are going to have to change to adapt to these new requirements.”

Blaine is one of 72 school districts statewide that have applied for a two-year waiver to the requirements, meaning the requirements would be implemented for the graduating class of 2021. Those students will be freshmen in two years.

Some schools have considered moving to a seven-period day, but that reduces the amount of class time per course, Spanjer said. Many of the changes are dependent on allocations from the state level, and with the state legislature still unable to adequately fund public schools, allocations are up in the air.

“We’re a long way away from finding a solution, but we have some time, and there are a lot of opportunities to look at how we might organize program scheduling,” Spanjer said. “We want to get a better understanding of what kids’ needs are and what the community wants to see.”

Also at issue are changes to early childhood education, as the district moves to all-day, everyday kindergarten next year.

The school board is inviting community members, parents, students and staff to discussion sessions at the district boardroom on Wednesday, September 30 and Thursday, October 1 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The discussion will be led by Mitch Everton, a former board member in the Anacortes school district, who has been brought on board as a consultant in the process.

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