Kettering: Cut in credits required for high school grads not ’lowering the bar’

In May, Fairmont High School seniors picked up their diplomas in a ceremony changed because of the coronavirus pandemic. More than 500 graduates waited in theirs cars for their names to be called. After receiving their diploma, the students entered the school's atrium for pictures. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

KETTERING – Seniors at Kettering Fairmont High School for the current and next academic years will need fewer hours to graduate.

Trimming the required minimum credits to earn a diploma from 21.5 to 20 will give seniors in the classes of 2021 and 2022 more leeway in pursuing college or professional careers earlier, district officials said.

“We have students wanting to pursue Sinclair (Community College) starting second semester – or even work,” Fairmont Principal Tyler Alexander told the board of education before it unanimously approved the measure Tuesday night.

ExploreCRIME: Police: Kettering 2 confess in rash of thefts of BLM, Biden, LGBTQ symbols

The credits in core subject areas – financial literacy, fine arts, health and physical education – will remain the same, school district records show.

The cut in credits needed to graduate will involve elective courses, officials said.

School board member Julie Gilmore said “it seems like we keep lowering the bar” and questioned how the move would impact students seeking admission to colleges.

Alexander said students are not limited to taking the minimum number of courses or credits.

ExploreNEW DETAILS: What to know about Stein Mart closing and Town & Country

“Students still have the ability to take seven classes a day for four years and students that are earning 28, 29 and 30 credits throughout their high school career – especially those students who are receiving credit in eighth grade, students taking advantage of (the) College Credit Plus” program, he said.

“We’re not reducing the rigor of our courses,” Alexander said. “We’re not reducing the amount of courses that we offer. But we have a number of students that have aspirations to move on from high school.

“And reducing that in the elective areas – rather than keeping them around to take elective classes that they’re really not interested in” will help them pursue military or work options sooner, he added.

ExploreBUSINESS: Kettering plans to sell Miami Valley Research Park land to Cleveland-area business

Students must earn a state minimum of 20 credits in specific subjects - including economics, financial literacy and fine arts – to meet high school graduation requirements, according to the Ohio Department of Education website.

Kettering City School District records also state COVID-19 was a factor in the change. The coronavirus prompted Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine to shut down all state schools in March and Kettering is set to begin the school year Sept. 8 by remote learning for all students.

The credit reduction is “really important for this junior and senior class,” Alexander said.

“We don’t t know what the future holds for us. We’re hoping to get back into school at some point,” he added. “But we don’t know that. This would provide us with more flexibility.”

ExploreMILITARY: Fallen Kettering soldier, Fairmont grad honored with Ohio 48 dedication

In Other News