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LOSTANT — Unless a future school board votes otherwise, this will be the last year Lostant School has a valedictorian. The board voted Friday night to do away with the award, along with salutatorian, in favor of honoring all straight-A students during the eighth-grade graduation ceremony.
All students with a 4.0 or better in seventh and eighth grade will get a certificate and medal at the May board meeting to wear at graduation.
The idea came from a written recommendation from teachers that also included weighting the algebra grade and implementing an essay contest to determine who would give the opening and closing speeches at graduation. Each item was discussed and voted on separately.
The first item in the set to be voted on was the graduation speeches. It passed unanimously and takes effect this year.
The second item, replacing valedictorian and salutatorian honors with a recognition of all straight-A students, passed 3-1, with board president Mike Phillips abstaining from the vote. The board approved this change effective next year. Board member Cindy Burcar said she would rather implement the change this year.
The third related item the board voted on was whether to weight the algebra grades when determining grade-point average.
Parent Ryan Edwall expressed concerns about the weighted grade being added this late in the school year, saying it was unfair to change the rules “after we’ve played the game.” Burcar and fellow board member John Wever agreed. “I personally never thought that it was going to be instituted this year,” Burcar said. “My feeling is that it’s too late.”
“It’s the wrong time of year to be coming up with this,” Wever said. Algebra student Morgan Phillips addressed the board, comparing the race for valedictorian to a race at a track meet.
“If you don’t weight the grades, it would be like the person who got second could still get first,” she said, later adding: “Even if you did it earlier in the year, the outcome will be the same … It would not have changed anyone else’s test scores if they knew algebra was going to be weighted.”
Burcar said she didn’t like the idea of weighted grades at all, because it may lead students to take a class for the purpose of raising their GPA rather than for the educational value. But board member Andy Urbanowski made a comment that changed her vote.
“I don’t like weighted grades either,” he said, “but I think it prevents inflated grades.”
The board voted 5-0 to weight the algebra grades beginning the 2013-14 school year. Board members Paul Janusick and Lisa Lindstrom were not present at the meeting, which had been rescheduled twice to obtain a quorum.
Also, the board: * Approved a change in placement criteria for eighth grade algebra. The board approved recommendations submitted by the teachers: Maintaining an A average in seventh-grade math remains a requirement, but AimsWeb has been eliminated from the criteria, and the aptitude test score must be a minimum of 85 percent instead of 90 percent.
* Approved a calendar for the 2013-14 school year that includes six days off for spring break. Board member Dianna Ioerger voted against that version of the calendar.
* Changed the effective date of removing the high school tuition cap. The board had voted in February to remove the cap, which had kept the full cost of tuition from impacting parents sending their children to La Salle-Peru Township High School. At the advice of the school’s attorney, the board approved removing the cap effective the 2014-15 school year.
* Accepted the resignation of two part-time teachers and full-time teacher Michelle Hoge, “with regret and appreciation for all that she’s done for the district,” Phillips said.
* Approved calling back a teacher who had been laid off at the February meeting. Phillips said the resignations brought the district’s finances to a place where they could afford to keep the teacher after all.
* Approved the 2013-14 contracts for support staff. Phillips said none of the support staff was laid off, but hours were adjusted to meet the needs of the students.
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