NEW BUFFALO — The New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education adjusted the credit requirements for members of the Class of 2020 during its April 13 regular meeting (conducted remotely via the Zoom app).

While the Michigan Merit Curriculum Graduation Requirements call for a minimum of 18 overall credits (broken down into areas of study such as English Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies and Physical Education & Health), the existing standard for NBHS grads stood at 28 credits.

The new requirement, adopted only for the Class of 2020 in light of the coronavirus closure of Michigan Schools which effectively ended in-building classes for much of the district’s third trimester, lowers the minimum number of credits for graduation to 22.

The revised breakdown of required credits for the Class of 2020 includes:

• 4 English Language Arts credits;

• 4 Mathematics credits;

• 3 Science credits (reduced from 4);

• 3 Social Studies credits (reduced from 4 and removing the 0.5 credit of Civics);

• 1 Physical Education and Health credit;

1 Visual, Performing and Applied Arts credit;

2 World Languages credit;

• Online Learning Experience.

New Buffalo Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Leslie said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order keeping schools closed through the end of the 2019-2020 year gives districts a great deal of latitude.

He noted that the current senior class did a phenomenal job on last year’s M-Step Social Studies test, adding “They know that material already.”

Leslie said many seniors have already completed their community service requirements.

“We still want to require they submit their essay on doing community service — they’ve all got some community service in,” he said.

Leslie said there are some 12th-graders who don’t have completed everything yet, including a number of students who have to finish up a math credit.

“We’ve got a plan in place for all of the seniors so they’ll have the opportunity to finish everything they need to do before the end of the school year.”

In response to a question on what type of graduation ceremony was likely, Leslie said he really wants to do an in-person commencement even if it has to be moved well into the summer.

“I don’t have a definite answer right now. I’m hoping that things will get back to relative normal,” he said.

The New Buffalo Area Schools Board of Education on April 13 also approved a three-year (2020-2023) contract with support staff represented by the New Buffalo Educational Personnel Association.

Leslie said the agreement calls for a 2.5 percent salary increase for the first year of the pact, adding that numbers for the next two years will be set once the fallout from the current coronavirus pandemic situation comes into clearer focus.

The board also voted to allow an April 20 bid opening related to entrance area construction planned at the elementary school to take place remotely and electronically.

Leslie said he was getting positive feedback on the first day of official remote learning (April 13).

“I know there are going to be some bumps in the road as we move forward with this … What I’ve been telling everybody is we’re going to be better at this on May 1st than we are here on April 13th.”

Board members Frank Magro and Heather Lijewski Black also related good first-day experiences with the remote learning.

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