Grad requirements may gain flexibility at Mid-Prairie

By Cheryl Allen
Posted 1/24/23

ents at Mid-Prairie high school have been in place for roughly 20 years and need revision, according to High School Principal Chuck Banks.  As it stands, students must consider their post-high …

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Grad requirements may gain flexibility at Mid-Prairie


The graduation requirements at Mid-Prairie high school have been in place for roughly 20 years and need revision, according to High School Principal Chuck Banks.  As it stands, students must consider their post-high school plans and choose a program that will support that direction; their three choices are to prepare for entering the workforce, attending a 2-year college, or attending a 4-year college.  Graduation requirements differ for each option.

“There was a conversation in the building about how our student population has changed over the last several years, and how we want to make it more of a broad requirement for everyone and not so specialized,” Banks told the school board at their regular meeting on Jan. 23.  

“We’re simply changing requirements,” Banks assured the board.  “Our expectations for kids are still going to be very high.”

Rather than selecting a track and feeling like they must see it through, all students would share the same basic requirements, which are based on state standards, and then work with advisors to determine which courses would suit their future plans best.  

The revised board policy reads, “Appropriate elective courses will be recommended based on interest and future college and career readiness planning. Student course selections will be supported by the Student Services Department, Seminar Advisors, and Administration and will be communicated to parents/guardians.”

The key feature of the new policy would be its flexibility.

“One thing that I see with some kids at the Alternative Center is if somebody, let’s say they’re on the two-year [college] path, but then something happens and for whatever reason they want to go into the workforce, then they have to get in CILA [Career Immersion Leadership Assessment] and work experience and some other things to where they typically can’t graduate.  So they’re a senior and they have to continue on a two-year path because they don’t have time to get those credits in,” ALC Principal Amy Shalla said, her anecdote demonstrating the need to update the requirements. 

West Elementary Principal Robin Foster agreed that more flexibility is needed.  “I’m not in high school, but why are we asking 8th graders to decide what their track is? I mean, I was 18 and didn’t know what I wanted to do.”

East Elementary Principal Greg Jergens also agreed that a more flexible set of requirements would be beneficial from his perspective as a parent of an 8th grader.

“I still have lots of questions,” Pickard noted, particularly about which courses would count toward meeting the math requirement.  “I don’t think this is done, in my opinion.”

“I think this is a good first step to having flexibility to have that conversation,” Banks said.

The board concluded their discussion with a vote, approving the first reading of the revised graduation requirements.

Other board action

The board also took care of several other business items on Monday night, including setting two public hearings: for the Middle School and East Elementary School additions and renovations, the public hearing was set for February 13 at 7 p.m.; for the High School track reconstruction, the public hearing was set for the same day at 7:10 p.m. 

As the school district continues to struggle to find enough bus drivers, the board approved a new set of incentives.  Those who refer a bus driver to the district will now receive $1000, and new drivers will receive between $1000 and $2000.

After lengthy closed sessions held earlier this month, the board selected OPN Architects, Inc., who has offices in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, as their new architect.  The board approved the hiring of OPN Monday night.

Finally, after a public hearing with no comments, the board approved the transfer of $252,049.80 from the Home School Assistance Fund to the Flexibility Account.  

Next board meeting: Monday, Feb. 13 at 6:15 p.m. at the Central Office Community Room.