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Starpoint High School seniors may be taking off early from school next year, if the Board of Education adopts an early dismissal program.

Mary Beth Genovese, the district's director of instruction, staff development and assessment, presented the board four options Monday on how seniors could be dismissed as early as 12:49 p.m., according to the tentative proposal.

Superintendent C. Douglas Whelan said he expects the board will approve an early dismissal program once it is ironed out and have it in use by September.

Genovese said the options would allow students to:

Get paid work experience in a structured program.

Take part in a nonpaying internship program.

Take college courses, possibly at Niagara University or Niagara County Community College.

Make money by working for some area business or go home if they already have earned the 22 high school credits they need to graduate and have shown themselves to be responsible.

The board started having its staff develop the program after board member Sam Geraci brought up the idea during budget deliberations earlier this year.

Whelan said the first option, called a General Education Work Experience Program, allows a student to take one class per week to develop skills on how to cope in the workplace. The program also allows students to get paid for 300 hours of work outside the school at a business that participates in the program and provides the district reports on a student's progress.

The second option, the Career Exploration Intership Program, would involve 162 to 204 hours of unpaid intership time, which would give students out-of-school opportunities to learn about a variety of occupations. The program also would require a student to take 54 hours of in-school instruction.

Students would get high school credit for both options.

The third option would let students leave school early to take college courses. Whelan said Niagara and NCCC offer those programs to area high schools. NCCC, for example, charges a student $46 per college credit under that program, Genevese said.

While board members appeared interested in the first three options, several questioned the wisdom of letting students out of school early just to be on their own or even working a job just to make money.

Kelly Zarcone said the students who would qualify to do that have already shown they are good, responsible students and not that type who go out a cause trouble.

Whelan said the board would continue to discuss the program before voting on it.


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