Committee to Study the Mission of CHS

February 22, 2007




Attending:  Anne Freske, Lee Kounovsky, Ellen Adler, David Case, Shirley Burrus, Ken Donner, Terrie Chrones, Bill Martin, John Moran, Sue Bowers


Anne Freske opened the meeting at 6:48 a.m.   There were no corrections/changes to the minutes of the December meeting.  The proposed agenda was approved with four topics:  Differentiated Diplomas/Meeting all students’ needs; Counseling (Career)/Parent Volunteers; Pathways; Update on Extended Options


Mrs. Freske began by reviewing some input to the committee from Mr. Ophus, who was absent due to jury duty.  His suggestions for the Committee’s focus are having the school district (a) identify students’ needs as early in their K-12 education as possible (through monitoring attendance and behavior patterns, administering aptitude/academic/IQ tests, checking learning styles, etc); (b) working with teachers, parents and students on six-year/four-year plans; (c) advising and counseling with respect to differentiated diplomas; and (d) working with colleges/military/unions, etc. on post-secondary options/scholar-ships/loans/placements, etc.  He sees the need to create and manage a system throughout the district that identifies the individual student’s needs and counsels/advises/mentors the student successfully through that system.


Differentiated Diplomas


Mrs. Freske asked Mr. Kounovsky to share information about the different types of diplomas available at Churchill.  He identified them as Modified, Honors, Traditional and Alternative.  The Honors option requires one additional credit, 120 hours of community service and a certain number of AP or IB courses (he did not have all the particulars).  As part of the Alternative Education staff, he shared a handout with an Alternative Diploma proposal they have made for next year.  It would require 24 credits and is designed as an option for students beyond their sophomore year.  There are concerns that the new graduation requirements could lead to more students accessing alternative pathways, which will stretch Churchill’s current Alt. Ed. capacity.


A review of the CHS Curriculum Guide shows that we list these same four diploma types, but the staff present didn’t feel that they or the students are clear on when or how those other than Traditional (or “Regular” in our terms) they would be pursued.  Parents must understand and be involved in diploma decisions as well, as they can veto staff recommendations, perhaps to the detriment of their student’s success.


Discussion about an Honors diploma led to sharing the concern that our current Honors English classes can be “top heavy and intellectually thin,” as we need more numbers to justify the class than there are often true honor students ready for higher level coursework.    Mr. Moran shared that our curriculum can get in the way of making class adjustments, noting that Honors English 10 studies US literature, as does “regular” English 11.  So a student who didn’t do well in Honors 10 would end up repeating material if they “moved back” to the “regular” English 11 class the following year.  He sees many students who are missing basic grammar skills and suggested perhaps setting a minimum score on the 8th grade state tests for those entering the Honors 9 class.


Questions were raised about what, if any, limitations are imposed on students’ future options when they earn less than a regular diploma.  At some point, state guidelines may not allow another kind of completion certificate to be called a “diploma.” 


Another issue brought up was the need for additional ELL services in the district and the likelihood of additional cultural/language groups being added to our mix in the future.  Several Spanish-speaking students have recently challenged our Spanish courses.  Does that process insure that they can read well in their first language?


It was agreed that many, if not most of these issues would be much easier to deal with if the budget were not such a constraint.  Mr. Martin shared with the group the OEA’s estimate of state funding increasing by around 14% for the coming biennium.  He suggested that could mean additional staffing might be possible and that the district would need to consider the best use of any additional money, looking at the entire system as a whole.


Mr. Kounovsky asked about how many classes here qualify students for LCC credit.  With staff turnover, we don’t have as many as we once did, but they are available in cooking, art, human body systems and (possibly) Spanish.  Teachers shared some of the difficulties that have been experienced in trying to meet the LCC requirements.  Mr. Kounovsky suggested that options be explored again, noting that Doug Orton is now the contact person for this program and he may be easier to work with.


Mrs. Burrus agreed with others that it would be great if Spanish could again be offered at the Middle School.  She would like to have certified help at the ELL position.  She noted that some work with CIS is being done now at CMS, but they would like to coordinate that with the high school’s CRLS program work rather than have the two efforts be disconnected.


Mr. Case suggested that perhaps the sixth grade student/parent orientation would be a place to start letting families know what choices are available during both middle school and high school.


Mrs. Freske summarized the discussion, suggesting as a next step that the different diploma options at CHS should be made clear to committee members.  Staffing needs could be fleshed out as well.  Options need to be reviewed with students proactively.  Dr. Adler noted that IEP and PEP meetings could be used to share options with students and parents.


The group realized that discussion had not progressed beyond the first discussion topic on the agenda.  In order to move forward, Mrs. Freske suggested the following assignments to be completed by the next meeting:


  1. Committee members at the high school meet with Mr. Ophus and Mrs. Zacharias to clarify the current diploma options and the process used to recommend choices to students.
  2. That group should identify any suggested short-term changes or improvements to the current system and
  3. Discuss longer-term program needs such as marketing to students, tie-in needs from CMS, etc.
  4. Mr. Kounovsky will bring additional diploma details from the 4J district.


The next meeting date was set for 6:45 a.m. on Thursday, March 22 and the meeting was adjourned at about 8:00.



Respectfully submitted,


Sue Bowers, Secretary