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Sharon Springs Superintendent Briefs on Possible Regents Changes

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 7/3/24 | 7/3/24

The Sharon Springs School Board at its Monday, June 10 meeting. Photo by Chris English.

By Chris English

SHARON SPRINGS — A Blue Ribbon Commission of stakeholders has recommended to the New York State Board of Regents that passing at least four Regents Exams be eliminated as a strict requirement for high school graduation, Sharon Springs Central School District Superintendent/Principal Thomas Yorke told the school board at its Monday, June 10 meeting.

Under the proposal, students would still be required to take the Regents exams but that passing them would become only one "pathway" to graduation, Yorke continued. Others might include things like projects and presentations, he added.

The final decision would rest with the New York State Education Department, Yorke said, and added he didn't know of any specific timeline for making a decision.

"We all want our students to be critical thinkers," he told the school board. "We will see how things get enacted. This possibility is going to drum up a lot of buzz."

New York is just one of nine states in the country that still mandate exit exams. The possible change is being described as one of the more sweeping educational reforms to be considered in the state in a long time.

In other news from the June 10 meeting, the school board is considering whether to add another sport _ varsity and modified girls soccer _ to the list of those where Sharon Springs CSD has the option to combine with its neighbor to the West, the Cherry Valley/Springfield School District, to field a team during seasons of low turnout.

Such an option already exists in varsity boys soccer, and varsity and modified baseball, softball and boys and girls track, Yorke explained.

"Each district prefers to field their own teams _ a sports merger is ONLY out of necessity," he wrote in an email to this newspaper.

A document on Sharon Springs/Cherry Valley-Springfield athletic merger guidelines states that: "Whenever possible, each school district prefers to field its own independent athletic programs. The intent of an athletic merger between the two schools is to provide the opportunity for the largest number of student-athletes to participate at the level appropriate for their age/skill. Finances and competitive advantage will not be taken into consideration."

The document continues: "The status of each athletic program will be evaluated on an annual basis (using attached rubrics)....While the final decision to merge a sports program lies with the board of education of each district and is subject to approval by the Tri-Valley Athletic Association and Section IV, it is understood in the spirit of cooperation that, should one school be designated as 'at risk' or 'distressed' and it is determined that a merger needs to occur, the other school will accept that request to merge for that sports season."

Approved at the end of the meeting was the hiring of Doug Burton as a full-time equivalent cleaner and Jeff Croger as a substitute cleaner. Both will earn the minimum wage of $15 an hour but Burton's position will be full time with benefits while Croger will work only as needed without benefits, school district Business Official Anthony DiPace explained.

The board also accepted the resignation of Internal Claims Auditor Angela Witham effective on June 30.

"She has done a good job," said both DiPace and school board President Helen Roberts.

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