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The passing grade for a Regents exam in the city school district is now 55, and will be for the next five years.

The School Board voted 4-2 Tuesday night for the lower standard. Board members Christine Schnars and Timothy Thomas voted no.

James Coffman, assistant superintendent of schools, said lowering the passing grade from 65 gives students more time to adjust to changing state standards.

"This is something that the Board of Regents has offered because there are some students who are transitioning to higher levels, and it enables them to graduate," he said.

"Fifty-five is still a higher standard than the (local) exam, which students have traditionally taken," Coffman said, "and the 55 would be a local diploma grade, as opposed to 65, which would be required for receiving a Regents diploma."

In the past, Coffman said, 50 percent of Jamestown High School students took the Regents exam, and the other 50 percent took the local exam. Now, with only a few exceptions, all students will take the Regents exams.

The board also agreed to pay up to $49,245 to Development and Environmental Consultants of Jamestown to begin a full environmental impact statement for capital projects at Jefferson Middle School.

The projects include the controversial Martin Road sports fields project, which has been restarted from scratch after the district was taken to court by neighbors of the 60-acre site.

School Superintendent Raymond Fashano said consultant Michael Pufpaff will oversee the state-required review.

Fashano said the review will include traffic and accident analysis, archaeological studies, rare species of plants and animals, noise investigations and analysis, storm water management and sewer capacity.

Once the review is completed, it will be sent to the state Education Department for approval.

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