By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
FONDA -- The Fonda-Fultonville Central School District this week reduced comprehensive diploma requirements to reflect the high school's decrease in elective class offerings.
Students seeking that diploma will be required to complete two fewer elective courses than they currently do, though the advanced diploma's elective requirements were not changed.
The number of electives, which are considered courses outside core content areas, have significantly decreased at the district as a result of budgetary impacts, said Principal David Halloran.
For example, when Halloran started his position six years ago, he said the district had three business teachers, and now there are none, while foreign language teachers have been reduced from six to two.
"It was getting harder to give the students the classes necessary to reach 25 credits," he said. "We required 25 credits to get any diploma, so we took the comprehensive diploma and dropped it to 22.5. It's still a half-credit over the state minimum."
According to the state Education Department website, New York students must complete 22 credits to graduate.
Interim Superintendent Ray Colucciello said more than 20 percent of students already exceed the district's credit requirements.
"It doesn't make a difference because there are so many who go above it," he said.
Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services Superintendent Pat Michel said the credit requirement reduction at Fonda-Fultonville will bring it more in line with neighboring schools.
"Most don't have the level that Fonda-Fultonville had," he said, adding most of BOCES' component school districts require the state minimum from students.
That made it difficult for students who transferred to Fonda-Fultonville to catch up, Halloran said.
Even with the reductions, Halloran believes the school's educational programming is competitive and effective, and the district is supplanting the loss of on-site courses through the use of technology.
The district currently has seven online elective courses offered through Gradpoint, and is adding seven more online courses through Hudson Valley Community College next year.
Additionally, the district intends to add several more on-site electives that will replace electives with low section numbers. They include a Project Lead the Way pre-engineering course, and an introductory course in nanotechnology.
"We're certainly a leaner outfit, but we're utilizing our resources, and fine-tuning the machine to make sure all the components are at full-capacity," he said. "I still think we're putting out a good product. On the top end, some students are graduating with between 32, 33 credits, and they're applying to great schools. They're all great kids."
Halloran believes the district is making the right decisions based on feedback from the students themselves. He pointed to a recent Board of Education meeting in which students asked how they're education had been impacted by budget constraints, because they hadn't noticed.
"I think that was pretty shocking to people," Halloran said. "I think we've done a good job mitigating and minimizing the damage, and doing more with less."