School coping with issues over college-level courses

B y Derek Liebig

 

The Whitehall School Board approved a new deferred compensation plan for employees at Monday’s monthly Board of Education meeting.

The school system unanimously approved the New York State plan that is available to all government employees.

According to district budget officer Jodi Bradshaw the plan will be more beneficial than the old plan.

“I believe it provides a better vehicle to invest their finances,” she said.

Under the previous plan, employees had to meet with a financial advisor as a requirement of the plan, which Bradshaw said may have led some employees to not participate in the plan.

The new plan is expected to be more convenient for employees.

Contributions can be made directly from payroll deductions and participants don’t have to pay state or federal income taxes on their contributions.

In other matters, high school principal Kelly McHugh discussed the difficulty the district has faced in obtaining permission to offer college courses.

In the past the school has offered Advanced Placement and SUNY Adirondack courses in language, social studies, math and science.

However, those classes require higher standards from instructors than regular high school level courses.

McHugh said the school has had a hard time finding history and math instructors, in particular, who meet those tougher standards. In most cases the teachers are required to have at least a master’s degree, so administrators have been working on creative ways to offer students the opportunity to earn college credit.

History is one class the school has been offered at the college level through SUNY Adirondack at Whitehall. The course provides students who successfully complete the course to earn college credit. But due to changes in the faculty (the former instructor had to leave the district) the course will no longer be offered at the college level. The school will however, offer it as Advanced Placement course, meaning students can still earn college credit if they earn a high enough score of the end of the year exam.

Math was another course that stood to be lost because the current instructor doesn’t have enough graduate level course work to meet the standards that have been set.

But McHugh said she contacted other districts and together they arranged a program for seniors to take the course for college credit at Fort Ann.

The class will be offered during the last period of the day and the five students who hoped to take the course will be allowed to travel to Fort Ann.

Board member George Armstrong asked why the school hadn’t hired teachers who at least held a master’s degree and met the standards. Superintendent George Armstrong said the school has made an effort to do that, but has lost several teachers due to retirement and declining enrollment.

“In the end, students should have the same opportunity for college credit,” he said.

McHugh added that with AP classes and using resources available at other schools, students can still graduate with 16 to 20 college credits.

Watson also said that as of Monday, the state had reversed course on Regents exams and they will be offered in January, although which exams would be offered is not yet known.

The board also agreed to accept a bid from TP Monahan Roofing Inc. to complete the high school auditorium roof. The company, which is based out of Queensbury, said in their letter that they expect to start the project around Oct. 1 and have it complete by the end of that month.

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