Graduation requirements at Ketchikan’s high schools could change. The board of education reviewed potential changes at Wednesday’s meeting. It also reviewed tightened immunization requirements and a program that helps students train for a potential school shooting.
The biggest change in the district’s graduation requirements could be in social studies. The board may cut the civics requirement by half — to just a semester. Students would no longer be required to take specific classes, like U.S. history. Instead, they’d be required to take three total credits in social studies. A semester of Alaska history is required by state law.
Proponents of the change say it would add flexibility. Current requirements lead some students to miss modern U.S. history, since most students fulfill the district’s graduation requirements by the time they reach the midway point in their U.S. history class.
Another potential change would allow students to fulfill a one-year technical education requirement with a fine arts class.
In a survey of students and staff that accompanied the presentation, respondents were split on whether high schoolers should be required to take a financial literacy course.
Board member Rachel Breithaupt said she favored that idea.
“I was taught how to write a check in middle school, and that was the extent of my financial literacy from public school education,” she said. “And I think that’s a real shame.”
Board member Sonya Skan said she wants to see mental health included as part of an expanded health class.
“I feel like there are so many people that are afraid to talk about their own mental health, or afraid to talk about medications or what’s happening in their lives, or to even seek the help that they need,” she said.
Board member Diane Gubatayo said she wanted to hold a public meeting to give the community a chance to weigh in on the proposed changes.
“Because no one’s had a chance other than tonight to really discuss these recommendations beyond us as a board and staff,” she said.
The board also discussed a proposal to change the district’s immunization requirements. The new requirements would mandate that doctors, nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants sign off on medical exemptions. Parents would need a notarized letter attesting to their religious beliefs to be exempted.
Acting board president Bridget Mattson say the change is intended to bring the district’s vaccination policy in line with state law. The board has yet to vote on the change.
In other business, the school board unanimously approved two temporary teachers’ contracts. It also postponed its review of an active shooter training curriculum for students until its Jan. 22 meeting.