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Holland schools urged to trim required credits

Holland School Board member Glenn Kline believes the district's graduation requirement of 28 credits is too rigorous and should be reduced.

Following a presentation by Holland High School Principal James Biryla on high school credits and schedules during a meeting of the School Board on Monday night, Kline said stringent state standards and the drive to offer more college-level courses have led to a lack of motivation among some students.

"Are we leaving students behind?" Kline asked. "The drop-out rate is going up. Why are we forcing kids to take all these credits? The pressure to perform is out of control."

He also said the ability of students to take on a part-time job or find time for extracurricular activities has been compromised by the 28-credit rule, which has been in place since 1993.

Kline urged the board to reduce the graduation requirement to 24 credits, which would be more closely aligned with other school districts. New York State requires 22 credits for graduation.

Biryla said that reducing credit requirements would increase staffing needs and cost the district money because additional study halls would have to be scheduled. He also argued that it is the district's responsibility to challenge students.

"Kids are like water -- they take the path of least resistance," the principal said.

He also emphasized that students who failed to graduate last year had enough credits to meet school standards. However, they didn't pass courses required by the state Department of Education.

Board members are divided on the issue.

Board President Joseph Kujda said he is satisfied with the current standards.

However, board member Brian Andrejewski said the requirements should be investigated further.

And board member Michael Liddle said exchanging college-level classes for study halls is "a poor trade-off."

At Kline's request, Superintendent Garry Stone agreed to break down the costs of reducing course credits.

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