PCHS wants to raise the bar | ParkRecord.com
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PCHS wants to raise the bar

Jared Whitley Of the Record staff

Park City High School wants to raise the bar. In order to graduate from Park City High School, students need to fulfill 26 credits worth of required classes. But a current policy up for consideration might raise that to 28 credits. Since the district has a block schedule of eight classes, students can take a maximum of 32 credits in their four years of high school. A year-long class is one unit, a semester class is 0.5. The state of Utah requires students take 24 credit units. Kirsten Kohlwey has worked on this proposal with the PCHS Community Council for two years. "I believe it encourages the students to get a broad education while they’re in school," Kohlwey said. "If you want to have students competing at a national or global level and be prepared for the future they should have the broadest skills that they can acquire." The additional credits the high school would require are A semester of financial literacy (a requirement by the state of Utah) A semester of computer technology A year of an elective class, chosen from the student’s "education occupation plan" (like a college student has electives within his/her major) School representatives proposed the idea to the Park City Board of Education at its meeting Tuesday evening. The board approved posting the policy for consideration, but will not vote on it until mid-January, according to the current schedule. Board members Lisa Kirchenheiter, David Chaplin, and Kim Carson voted in favor of posting. Vern Christensen voted against it, and Kathryn Adair was not at the meeting. "Their main goal is to keep our kids competitive on an international level, not just a Utah level," Kirchenheiter said. The financial literacy and computer requirements are "very appropriate and very well thought out for our world today," Christensen said.

Even though the board approved the measure, members are skeptical.

Kirchenheiter continued, "I want to support what the high school and the community council are desiring and I feel like they’re up close and personal with this and they should know what the needs of the school are, but on the other hand there are some serious questions about how this will help students who are struggling." Chaplin said, "This will be maybe too difficult for some students to accomplish."

Struggling students

About 70 percent of Park City students already graduate with 28 credits or more, Christensen said. Some students even take a zero-hour class or one on Saturday morning.

But how will this new requirement affect the other students, Christensen wonders. Before approving such a measure, he continued, the board should answer such question as: What has been our historical drop out rate? What number of students do we have who are seniors who might have 25 credits who might leave the district and go graduate at another high school? How many of the students that are not high achievers, who struggle to get 26 credits how much more problem would there be to get 28 credits? What about our ELL students? Moreover, Park City High School offers an extensive array of elective classes such as science fiction literature, debate, Student Council, peer tutoring, and internships. Would increased academic requirements detract from a student’s capacity to take electives? Christensen praised "the rigor of coursework and diversity of coursework that we have at the school. I applaud what their doing and it’s very important what they’re doing for our students and their progress. How does that fit with increasing the basic requirement levels? I’m not sure."

The increased requirement could also affect students enrolled in the Latter-day Saint Seminary. Students who took a seminary class every year would then have no room for additional elective classes (28 credits + 4 seminary credits = 32 total available in high school). "It is a concern, it’s an issue it’s something to keep in mind, but it’s something we’ve dealt with all along. It’s just a matter of reality that we deal with," Chaplin said.

About 200 students at both Park City High School and Treasure Moutnain International School are seminary students, said Mike Cottle, the seminary principal. "It could affect" the number of students enrolled in semiary, Cottle said. "I’m not sure how many, but it could affect us."

Many LDS seminaries have a class before school hours, but Park City does not at this point.

The requirements could also reduce the number of students who get parental release to miss class for whatever reason, such as athletics. "That makes sense doesn’t it? I think it does figure into the whole mix of things, less parent release," Chaplin said.

Board members are interested in community input on the subject. Kirchenheiter said, "If we get enough feedback from stakeholders where they can tell us how this is going to be negatively impacting our child, it could be put off again." Chaplin said, "We thought it would be important to get it in front of the public by posting it so the feelings of other people might get back to us and we’ll have a clear way to go." Board contact info: Dave Chaplin, 649-9613,

dchaplinLisa Kirchenheiter, 649-7786, lisakirchVern Christensen, 655-2941, verncKim Carson, 649-1743, kcarsonKathryn Adair, 645-0819, kadair


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