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Karns City Area School District weighs grad, bid possibilities

KARNS CITY — How students get to graduation was discussed at the Karns City Area School Board meeting Monday.

Also under discussion was the addition being built at Chicora Elementary School.

Graduation

Principal Michael Stimac said that the current and future senior classes will have to meet local requirements, which include accruing 23 or more credits, passing all standing courses, and making up any failed courses before being eligible to graduate in June.

In addition, Stimac outlined different “pathways” designed by the state that are available to students who have not passed all of their Keystone exams. Keystones are end-of-course assessments that evaluate proficiency in the subject areas of Algebra I, Literature, and Biology, which can be taken at varying points in a student’s academic career.

For example, if a student has not achieved a proficient score in the Keystones, but attends Butler County Area Vocational-Technical School, the student could use the “Career in Technical Education (CTE) concentrator” pathway to meet requirements at the vo-tech and would likely pass end-of-course exams. Students can then be deemed CTE concentrators and apply that pathway to graduation eligibility.

Students can also use the “alternative-assessment pathway,” where they meet one “artifact” out of many. This could include a qualifying score on exams such as the SATs (1010 or higher), ACTs (21 minimum), or Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, or ASVAB (31 or higher.)

Students also can present a letter of acceptance to a four-year institution as their “artifact” in the alternative-assessment pathway.

If a student doesn’t meet the proficiency pathways, they have an evidence-based pathway available to them, where they present three pieces of evidence or artifacts. For instance, an acceptance letter to Butler County Community College could qualify as one artifact.

Even if they have passed only one Keystone out of three, the lone proficient score could be deemed another. A third option would be evidence of completing a service learning project, such as a community service initiative. Anything that benefits people through volunteering or fundraising could qualify.

Letters confirming enlistment into a branch of the military or full-time employment can also be designated as evidence for the pathway.

The state’s ultimate goal with these pathways, as communicated by Stimac, is believed to be acknowledgment that not every student will perform well on an exam, offering other ways for them to prove they are prepared for life beyond high school.

Chicora construction

The board also voted to advertise bids to build the addition planned for Chicora Elementary once again, this time shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday.

The bids will be advertised for five to six weeks, set to be reviewed in January 2023. Originally, $18 million had been slated for the project, and bids came back $8 million over the established budget. The plans to expand Chicora Elementary at that time included a new classroom wing, a separate cafeteria and an all-purpose outdoor playing field.

“Extremely tight supply chains and the heavy inflation increased the expected costs,” said Eric Ritzert, superintendent, on Monday. “We’re hoping that when we go back out to bid, we’ll have been able to reduce several million in costs, with the slight cooling of inflationary pressures, improved supply chains, and changes in how the project itself was bid.”

Pending bids being approved in January, Ritzert is hopeful to be able to award contracts in March or early April 2023, with construction underway in late May or early June to make better use of time in the summer months.

“Hopefully, the economics are in our favor this time,” Ritzert added.

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