DUBLIN — With budget cuts looming, the Dublin school district will not make graduation requirements quite as tough as it had planned.
The district had planned to begin requiring students to take classes that would qualify them for the University of California or California State University systems in order to graduate. The requirements were approved by the school board more than two years ago and would have started in 2012.
The school board Tuesday adopted a reduced plan that would still start with the same graduating class. The more relaxed graduation requirements mean not as much money will be needed for remediation and support for students who are lagging behind.
The revised plan calls for graduation requirements more rigorous than those now in place. It also awards a special diploma to those who qualify for the two state university systems and who reach other achievement levels. The district's goal is to gradually increase the number of graduates reaching the higher level.
Board members Greg Tomlinson, Jennifer Henry and John Ledahl voted in favor of the new requirements, Board President David Haubert said, while Haubert and board member Dan Cunningham voted against them.
However, Haubert said he still believes in where the district is headed.
"I absolutely support the direction we're going," Haubert said. He said he voted against the plan because he wanted to see an even higher degree awarded for more achievement, and more remediation and support for students who are behind.
Superintendent Stephen Hanke said students will still have to earn 230 credits to graduate — for both a regular diploma and a "diploma with distinction." But instead of earning those credits with electives, students will have to take more math, science and foreign language than they do now.
The new regular diploma requirements include three years of math and three years of science — two years of each are now required. They can be fulfilled with classes being developed for new "pathway" programs in which students would take classes geared toward specific areas like health science or engineering, Hanke said.
Beginning in 2016, students must take two years of a foreign language, which can be done partly in middle school.
Students could not use the "pathway" classes to fulfill the requirements for the "diploma with distinction" but instead would have to take higher levels of science and math, such as Algebra II, Haubert said.
They also would have to receive a C or better and get a state Golden State Seal Merit Diploma. Graduates earning that distinction must score high on examinations, such as state standardized tests, according to the state Department of Education.
Haubert said such advanced degrees are more popular outside California, but they do have value locally. While UC and Cal State — mainly concerned with factors such as transcripts and whether students have taken the courses needed to qualify — may not give it more weight, some private institutions do, he said. Students can also place it on their job résumés.
Haubert also said that by setting a goal, more students will be encouraged to reach it.
He said the previous requirements needed modification because there is not enough money to help students who might fall short of them.
"The budget crisis just hasn't allowed us to do that," Haubert said. He said though the school district passed a property parcel tax in November, it is still not enough to avoid expected cuts from the state.
"It raises $1 million a year and we need two to three times that," he said.
Reach Eric Louie at 925-847-2123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.