Ex-School Board member tackles graduation requirements

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PORTLAND — A long-time member has stepped down from the School Board, but that doesn’t mean she won’t stay involved in the School Department.

Kate Snyder, whose last board meeting was Nov. 26, is now chairwoman of a newly formed task force to look at graduation requirements at Portland Public Schools.

The announcement came Nov. 26, when Jaimey Caron, another outgoing board member and chairman, released the names of members of the new 19-person task force, which includes teachers, principals, university professors, educational technicians, parents, other community members, and students.

The task force will compare new state requirements for graduation against current district policies, and is expected to share its recommendations with the School Board on May 1, 2014.

Those recommendations may include the addition of “internships and other extended learning outside of school, world languages and cultures, community service and other topics,” according to a department news release.

The new requirements would be implemented next fall. Incoming freshmen, the Class of 2018, would be the first class to graduate under the new rules.

Students under the new requirements will have to demonstrate “proficiency in career and education development, English language arts, world languages, health, physical education and wellness, mathematics, science and technology, social studies and visual and performing arts,” according to the release.

Snyder, who was elected to the board in 2007 and served as chairwoman, said the topic of new graduation requirements was first discussed by the School Board six years ago, but the initiative stalled. Now that changes are mandated by the state, Snyder said she felt she should stay involved in the process.

“We’ve got two new board members, and we have a relatively new superintendent,” she said. “I didn’t think that the board itself necessarily had the bandwidth to manage the process internally and on their own.”

Snyder said a task force that includes members of the community is the best option for developing draft regulations, which the board would ultimately review.

As to whether the task force will be Snyder’s final involvement in the schools is anyone’s guess.

“You never know,” she said. “I figured (the task force) would be a good transition out of what I’ve been doing and hopefully will help the district.”

Ben McCanna can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or bmccanna@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @BenMcCanna.

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