July 28, 2008

Service Requirement Cut in Half

By Sadia Latifi, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.

Jul. 26--Students attending any of Chapel Hill-Carrboro's three high schools next year will have a little less to accomplish before graduation.

The school board voted Thursday night to reduce mandatory community service for students, halving the graduation requirement from 50 to 25 hours.

The change came in response to a state-mandated graduation project that took effect for juniors and seniors this year. Board members said the new project cuts into the time students previously had for community service.

Dissenting board member Jamezetta Bedford said she would prefer cutting the volunteering requirement altogether, after judging this year's projects and learning that some students spent more than 30 hours working on them. The state project includes a research paper, portfolio and oral presentation.

Also Thursday, parents from Carrboro High School complained that the new school's limited advanced course offerings and lack of arts facilities were pushing it to "second-class status" in the district.

Almost two dozen parents and students attended the meeting, continuing a semester-long effort to urge school administrators to keep offerings between the district's three high schools equitable.

Carrboro High opened its doors in August; in the spring, school officials announced they were cutting about a dozen advanced placement and honors courses for the next year. Parents wrote to the school board, and some threatened to transfer their children to other schools, leading to the reinstatement of several of those courses.

"The realization that Carrboro High could be destined to offer a second-rate education came as a shock to many of us," said Jenny Kopczynski, a parent of a rising sophomore at the school.

Carrboro High will offer 15 AP classes next year, while Chapel Hill High and East Chapel Hill will offer 18 and 19, respectively.

In other business, the board adopted a new student academic integrity policy for the district.

The policy follows the discovery of a cheating scheme at Chapel Hill High School in February that led to four student suspensions and statewide media attention.

The policy defines plagiarism, other violations and unauthorized collaboration and includes a section forbiddng the use of cell phones, electronic devices and other aids without permission.


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