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The Laurel School Board last night revised its policies about class rank and graduation requirements.

“Since 2010, there have been changes made periodically, but nothing’s really been changed to update the language of the policies,” said Mark Frengel, high school principal of academic affairs. 

An administration report presented by Frengel primarily focused on the deletion of “any course awarded grades 9 through 12” for high school course credit. The reason for the deletions and a new clarification was to create opportunities for more advanced middle school students to begin taking high school classes for credit instead of pass or fail, according to Frengel.

This policy will begin in September with the district’s eighth-grade students.

Another policy change was to the grade point average system. In the old system, all students with perfect GPAs were ranked number one, creating confusion on transcripts sent to colleges, according to Frengel.

“Colleges will then reach out to us and say, ‘You have so-and-so, Justin Kirkwood (board member), listed as number one, what’s his real relative number?’ and then we have to break down and look at what their actual rank is,” Frengel said. “So we want to be able to rank our kids, not just on 4.0 or higher ...” 

About 20 students graduated this school year ranked number one, according to Frengel.

In changes to credit requirements for graduation, seniors must have four credits of English, four credits of social studies, three credits for science, including a mandatory biology class, and four credits for math, including a mandatory entry-level algebra class.

“The science and the algebra, you feel all students will be able to meet these requirements?” board member Jeff Hammerschmidt asked.

“All students will meet those requirements,” Frengel replied. 

“Be able to?” clarified Hammerschmidt.

“Yes,” Frengel said. “Procedures and policies weren’t lining up, and that’s why were looking to change this.”

Frengel also played a video of the this year’s three-day STEAM Camp featuring 170 Laurel students from kindergarten to sixth grade participating in camp activities such as learning about gravity and paleontology.

“STEAM Camp is one of my favorite things we do,” interim Superintendent Len Rich said. “It’s authentic education.”

In other news:

•The treasurer’s report showing a total cash balance of $2,647,376.11 and total expenditures of $1,196,175.98 was approved.

•Slippery Rock University graduates Hannah Buckley and Jessica Slupe will intern in the elementary and secondary guidance department for the 2019-2020 school year.

•Resignations from Jason Burkes, assistant golf coach, and George Miles, head boys track coach, were accepted.

•Betsy Wolford was hired as the musical assistant choral director.

•Amanda Long was hired as a secondary special education teacher.

•An agreement with the Lawrence County Drug and Alcohol Commission for services during the upcoming school year was approved.

•An agreement with the Lawrence County Community Action Partnership to use the elementary school for the Head Start Program was approved.


Maria Basileo is a news reporter. She covers Laurel and Shenango school boards and municipal government.

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