By JOHN McCALLUM
Editor 

Cheney asks state for graduation requirements waiver

Requirement to earn 24 specified credits in order to receive a diploma to begin with class of 2021

 


The Cheney School District has given the next several graduating classes a reprieve in the number of credit hours they must achieve to earn a diploma.

At the Feb. 14 regular meeting, school board directors voted unanimously to ask the state for a waiver of the Core 24 requirement that seniors achieve 24 specified credits to earn their diploma, and continue operating under the current 23-credit system. The increase in credits was implemented with passage of E2SSB6552 by the state Legislature in 2016, imposing the 24-credit requirement starting with the graduating class of 2019.

Superintendent Rob Roettger said when the bill originally passed, school districts had the option to ask for a waiver of the requirement, something many districts did but Cheney opted not to do. After getting a look at the academic situation of some students of the class of 2021, the school district decided to go ahead with a waiver for the classes of 2019 and 2020, implementing the 24-credit requirement in 2021.


Roettger said the waiver will allow the district a couple of additional years to look at academic deficiencies in some of the students impacted by the changes.

“There won’t be a lot of big changes for our students,” Roettger said. “We really wanted to allow our students to get that diploma as other districts have done.”

Roettger added the district is not reducing academic requirements for graduation, just asking for more time to look at their specific situation. One aspect coming into play in meeting requirements in areas such as science is the upcoming construction at the high school, work that will impact the building’s lab space and ability to provide proper instruction.

With regards to projects, the school board approved the final construction documents, cost estimates and authorized the superintendent’s office to bid the expansion work at Sunset Elementary School. The final project documents include 10 new classrooms, a gymnasium, secure entrance and site improvements totaling 20,989 square feet, up from 19,000 square feet estimated in the 2017 bond but down from 21,079 square feet included in the design documents phase.

The final maximum allowable construction cost is $5,610,049, with the construction document estimate 1.2 percent above this at $5,679,998, which includes a 1 percent contingency fee. The bidding period began Feb. 22, with bids opened March 1 and a contract awarded March 28. The documents also included five alternate bid items including additional landscaping, vinyl wall covering for a second wall in each classroom and an alternate boiler supplier to encourage competitive bidding.


The board also approved portions of a value engineering study of the high school expansion and renovation performed by Roen & Associates of Spokane. The study looked at civil, architectural, structural, mechanical and electrical aspects of the project.

The board accepted 17 of the 54 recommendations, which provided a total of $295,165 in savings. The largest savings is $161,867, done through relocating the wrestling room from a proposed second story to the ground floor. Other savings came from revised ceiling heights and better window construction.

The district did not accept recommendations that produced marginal cost savings, incurred code implications affecting design or function, restricted public traffic flow and did not meet district program, design and operations standards.

Roettger said completion of the value engineering was necessary for the district to meet requirements for state matching funds. The district is on track to receive $7 million in state unhoused students and new and in-lieu funding.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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