The Lincoln High School administration reported that senior privilege, a scheduling policy for the 2016-17 school year, has been working fantastically.
At the Ellwood City Area school board agenda meeting on Tuesday, Lincoln assistant principal John Sovich presented the board with statistics and feedback on the policy. Following the feedback, the board, which was skeptical of the policy last year, overwhelmingly approved of senior privilege.
Senior privilege is a scheduling policy in which seniors may opt to come in at 10 a.m. or leave two hours early rather than taking electives. This is not due to a lack of elective options but due to a lack of classroom space for preferred electives. As seniors schedule first, electives may be completely full by the time underclass students schedule. In order to participate in senior privilege, seniors must meet academic and discipline requirements and be on course to graduate.
The policy met with some controversy among the 2015 school board, with a few members, including now-president Renee Pitrelli, disapproving of the policy and others, such as LeRoy Cortez, skeptical to fully embracing it.
Sovich reported that 58 of the 129 students in the Class of 2016 have utilized senior privilege. Out of this, 48 of the students leave early and 34 of those 48 use that time to go to work. Among the students who come in late, seven reported using the later start to work later at night.
Sovich also reported that discipline among the senior class has radically improved. In the 2015-16 school year, by February there were 38 suspendable disciplinary instances in the senior class. This school year, there have only been seven, and the administration didn’t mention other possible contributing factors.
Sovich also had feedback from parents and students who enjoyed the policy. Benefits included, but are not limited to: more time to sleep, more time to study, more time to work and subsequently earn more money, not taking unnecessary classes for the sake of filling a schedule, better prepared for the school, less missed school due to being able to schedule doctor’s appointments before or after hours, more energy for sports and extracurricular activities, and more time for productive recreational activities such as exercising.
Most students didn’t feel they missed anything important in their education. In addition, students that have failed to maintain the requirements have had their privilege revoked.
Following the report, several board members expressed their approval of the policy. Pitrelli conducted an informal poll in which all members expressed approval, except Pitrelli, who didn’t poll herself.
This marked a change in position for some members. In May 2015, the three new board members, Erica Gray, Jennifer Tomon and Danielle Woodhead, had expressed open disapproval for the policy at a Meet the Candidates hosted by the Kitchen Cabinet, an Ellwood City volunteer organization. Incumbents Cortez and Nuepauer, running for re-election, were lukewarm about the policy but had supported the administration’s decision.