More credits to be needed to graduate from high school

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

By Karen Hall


Beginning with the freshman class which will start high school this August, the credits required to graduate will be increased to 26.

This was unanimously approved by the school board at its monthly meeting Monday night.

The current number of credits required to graduate in Marshall County is the state minimum -- 22.

"Only two counties, Giles and Bedford, require this number," said Director of Schools Jackie Abernathy. "Other counties require up to 28. Lawrence County requires 28, and they're the highest scoring county in our group. If Maury and Lincoln can do 26, we can do 26."

"I don't think it's too much to ask a bit extra," agreed board member Donnie Moses.

"I think it's expecting a lot, but I think it's about time," said board member Barbara Kennedy.

"I'd like to see us raise it to 24, and start with the upcoming freshmen," said Abernathy.

A motion to raise the required credits to 24 was defeated, but another motion by board member Ken Lilly to raise the credits to 26, was unanimously approved.

School board members also approved Abernathy's calendar for the 2014-2015 school year.

The calendar does not have to be approved until June 1, but Abernathy said she has already had people calling, asking about it because they wanted to schedule sports, vacations, and so on.

Kennedy made her usual objection to the length of the fall break in October (nine days, if you count the weekends before and after), especially since it is followed the next month by a week off for Thanksgiving.

"I don't think they need nine days off in October," said Kennedy.

"I wish fall break was a four-day weekend," added board member Kristen Gold.

The motion to approve the calendar passed 7-2, with Kennedy and Gold voting "no."

Abernathy showed board members a letter from Administrator of Elections Tristan Arnold, asking that schools be closed for the election days of Aug. 7 and Nov. 4. Westhills Elementary and Cornersville Elementary are both polling places, and by not having school on election day, security concerns would be alleviated and access for voters would be easier.

Aug. 7 is not a problem since it is on the calendar as a professional development day only, but Nov. 4 is another story.

"No way we can do Nov. 4," exclaimed Abernathy.

November is also notable for a date which is not on the official calendar, but is already looming large in the minds of administrators: the accreditation visit by AdvancED, scheduled for Nov. 10-12.

Kennedy immediately inquired about the cost of accreditation, and the necessity for it.

Supervisor of Secondary Education Beth Smith estimated the cost at around $10,000, but noted the accreditation is good for five years.

"I discussed it with Greg (Lowe) and some of our county leaders," said Abernathy. "We need to be accredited, they said. It also has a bearing on our students getting into college."

"I would be for it if it helped our students get into college," said board member Sherry McClintock.

"I'm tired of being held hostage," exclaimed Kennedy. "As far as I'm concerned it has no value. It's not just the money -- it's the disruption."

"We need to get more specifics," agreed Gold.

Kennedy said she would like to hear from a school system that wasn't accredited, but Smith said she did not know anyone who was not.

"I would not like to be the only school system in Middle Tennessee that was not accredited," said Abernathy.

"My concern is the recruiting of industry," said board chairman Mike Keny.

"Do we need to vote tonight?" asked board member Randy Perryman.

Abernathy told him work was already going on to prepare for the visit, and said, "We need to get it taken care of."

When the vote was called for, only Kennedy voted "no," so the accreditation visit by AdvancED will go ahead as planned.