School board examines class ranking, new courses
Basehor School Board members discussed new courses, career pathways and class rankings at its meeting Monday night.
C.R. Goodin, a counselor at Basehor-Linwood High School, presented a new health science “pathway” for students interested in pursuing medical professions. The new pathway would require one new course, medical terminology, and students would also take current health, health promotions, anatomy and physiology, and the health careers course at the Technical Education Center.
Other new courses include theater design, an extension of play production; accelerated studies and project design, a course for high-achieving students; and remodeling and building maintenance, one course to take the place of electrical and security systems and HVAC and plumbing systems.
The board will vote on the new classes at its next meeting Monday, Dec. 10.
Goodin also addressed a new problem arising with weighted GPAs and the selection of valedictorian and salutatorian. There are a couple of instances that inaccurately rank some students higher than others, he said.
If a student doesn’t take a full course load but takes all the available weighted classes, that student is weighted higher than other students taking a full schedule with a lower percentage of honors courses. Essentially, it would rank that student higher when he or she would really be tied with classmates.
Another problem that arose this year is when an honors course is offered one year but not the next. A student who couldn’t take the honors course doesn’t have an equal opportunity and has a lower weighted GPA than a student who did take it.
The problem in weighing their GPA comes when its time to choose valedictorian and salutatorian, Goodin said, and the district should look at a new method.
“Using weighted GPA to determine valedictorian and salutatorian is not equitable, and we probably shouldn’t be doing that,” he said.
The overall top 10 percent is calculated by using a combination of the nonweighted and weighted top 10 percents, Goodin said, but the board should decide what to do with the valedictorian and salutatorian titles. The board could continue the current practice of choosing valedictorian and salutatorian by the nonweighted GPA or possibly stop using the titles, which only signify a student’s class rank. Students will still be No. 1 in their class, they just won’t use that exact title.
“Nothing hurts the students by not giving salutatorian and valedictorian,” Goodin said, adding that most colleges assess class rank and not the title, which isn’t awarded until after college applications have usually been turned in.
Superintendent David Howard said he knows some people may be upset with the adjustment, but it’s really only a change in terminology.
“Schools tend to get entrenched in tradition,” he said. “I know the shift can be hard.”
The school board will vote on the issue at its next meeting.
Howard discussed his plans for broadening career study for eighth-graders. After meeting with the district’s counselors, they came up with the idea to create a semester-long course to allow students time to explore possible careers and what kind of education is necessary for each job.
Although it’s still in the beginning planning stages, Howard said, if the course came to fruition, he’d like to see the teacher meet with each eighth-grader and his or her parents to discuss the results of the ACT Explore test, which surveys students’ possible career interests.
Board members showed support for the idea of increased career planning prior to entering high school to give students a better idea of what classes are available and which ones will benefit their career goals.
“Kids need to know there are other options out there other than a four-year school,” Howard said.
In other business at the meeting:
• Resident Spencer Fritz told board members he is concerned about the deteriorating state of the kindergarten rooms at Basehor Elementary School. He said he sent photos to board members of one room with peeling countertops, sagging cabinets and other problems to highlight the needed repairs. Superintendent David Howard said he will look into the classrooms.
• The board congratulated Basehor-Linwood Middle School vocal teacher Wendi Bogard for winning Northeast District Kansas Middle Level Choir Director of the Year.
• Board members discussed the Basehor Historical Society’s request to move the town’s first library to school property. The small structure currently sits on a residential property at Leavenworth and 155th roads. The board came to the consensus that the potential insurance issues and repair and maintenance associated with the historical monument make the request unfeasible for the district.
• Members elected Dayna Miller as a voting delegate at the upcoming Kansas Association of School Boards convention. Other members attending the convention are Eric Dove, Shelley Stevens, Jeané Redmond and Lori VanFleet.
• The board approved an out-of-state travel request for the BLHS band spring trip to Washington, D.C.
• The board approved the lowest of two bids for new lockers at BLHS for $33,788.
• The board approved the termination of Brenna Leiker, food service; the appointments of Katie Maize, BES library aide, and Norma Newman, Sandra Mayorga and Angela Vlasic, all in food service; and the resignations of Katie Maize, food service; Melissa Staresinic, BES library aide; and Scott Henderson, custodian.
• Members entered into executive session to discuss of matters pertaining to the evaluation of the superintendent.
• Howard announced the National Blue Ribbon celebration will be at 2 p.m. Friday at BLHS.
• Howard updated the board on the flooding problems at Linwood Elementary School’s playground, which was addressed by a school district resident in a previous meeting.
After it rains, water gathers in swales, making the playground inaccessible. Although Howard originally thought a structure could be built for students to cross over the water, audience member Spencer Fritz told him the flooding occurs across the entire playground, making it too muddy for children to play anywhere.