The value of travel experiences and a 5-point A generated discussion when the New London Board of Education met on Monday, Nov. 25.
Two middle school teachers who want to take a busload of students to Washington, D.C., in the spring of 2015 unveiled tour plans.
District administrators proposed a rollback of a weighted grades policy that first will affect the Class of 2017 — this year’s freshmen.
In June, the board approved a new weighted grade system to give students in honors, advanced placement, and dual-enrollment college level courses more points for their grades.
Since then, more dual credit opportunities have become available.
Courses such as snowboarding could qualify for weighted grades under the current policy, according to Superintendent Kathy Gwidt.
The change proposed last week offers weighted grades only to advanced placement courses in core subjects of English, math, science and social studies.
It strikes language related to other advanced placement and honors courses, as well as other dual enrollment courses.
Weighted grades offer an extra point — starting with 5 points for an A grade rather than 4.
The goal is to “encourage high school kids to take more rigorous courses,” Gwidt said.
With more electives and technical school core courses open to students as young as high school freshmen, the focus has shifted from rigorous study.
Joe Pomrening, principal of New London High School, said technical schools were trying to boost enrollment by letting younger students take courses.
“If we fast-forward three or four years, we’d just be going to a 5-point scale,” Pomrening said.
The board took no action on the policy change at this “first reading.”
‘History Comes Alive’
A bus tour of the nation’s capital will bring eighth grade history curriculum to life, two middle school teachers told the board.
Michele Koshollek, language arts teacher, and Sara Casey, social studies, proposed to take students who are now in seventh and eighth grades to Washington, D.C., in spring 2015.
The trip would include stops in Philadelphia, Pa., and Baltimore, Md., at sites connected to the author Edgar Allen Poe, also part of eighth grade curriculum at New London Intermediate/Middle School.
Preliminary estimates put the cost of the three-day trip at $1,100 per student. The only cost to the school district might be substitute teachers for her and Casey, Koshollek said.
“Prepare to be amazed,” she said at the start of a video about the tours offered by World Stride.
Casey said the tour company would arrange an itinerary to include sites that fit local curriculum. It would provide transportation, tour guides and hotel hall monitors.
Suggested sites include the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial and the Holocaust Museum.
Board members agreed on the educational value of travel. The cost of the trip generated further discussion.
Board president Keith Steckbauer commented on the travel time involved in bus rather than plane transportation.
Flying would add $500 to $600 to the cost, Koshollek said.
“In this economy, in this district, will we get enough parents to come to an informational meeting” with that added cost, she asked.
Board member Kim Schroeder expressed concern that the cost of the trip would exclude many students. She asked about fundraising possibilities, noting that a student would have to sell a lot of candy bars at 50 percent profit to raise $500.
Koshollek said there were lots of ways to raise money.
Schroeder agreed that visiting Washington was an amazing experience. If everyone experienced it, she suggested, there might be more respect among politicians.
The board approved the request to add the 2015 trip to the rotation schedule of Extended Student Travel, 5-0, with members John Faucher and Jeremy Gorges absent.