YORK -- It just got harder to graduate with honors in York.
Fewer students will be graduating with a diploma of distinction from York Comprehensive High following the York School board's initial approval last week to increase the grade point average honors requirements from 3.0 to 4.2 for a gold level recognition and 3.75 for silver level recognition.
"Our goal isn't to make it tougher," said Dr. Russell Booker, district superintendent. "We'd like for everybody to still work to acquire that, but that policy was passed years ago, before there was a uniform grading policy."
A uniform grading policy gives students extra credit for advanced credit classes. Under that system, students can earn a 5.0 GPA.
YCHS principal Diane Howell said they requested the board make the change because more and more students were qualifying for the degree each year. While only about 30 students earned the distinction the first year, this year 128 of the 317 graduating seniors received honors.
"I think it's great the number of students we have who qualify, but also you want it to be meaningful to students," Howell said.
To earn the degree of distinction, students also must complete a certain amount of community service hours. The current draft of the policy recommends 50 hours, but the board requested that district staff consider increasing that before the measure goes to final vote.
"I think, for one thing, it shows students that part of being a mature citizen is you give back to the community in whichever way you can," said board member Shirley Harris.
Often students discover a career path through volunteering, she said.
"That's the kind of thing I'm wanting them to be able to do -- to leave us not only with academic knowledge, with grades and stuff, but to leave us with knowledge of community needs and how they can help with those needs," she said.
Community service can be organized through churches or other community groups even if they aren't school-related.
"Quite frankly, 50 hours over four years isn't a whole lot," Booker said. "We have some that have hundreds and hundreds of hours."
The policy will be grandfathered, so rising 10th, 11th and 12th graders will not be affected, Booker said.
School budget approved
YORK -- Aside from state-mandated salary increases, there will be little change in the York School District's budget this year.
Citing the uncertainty of state funding, the school board approved a budget that will add two new teaching positions and a computer lab manager, but no new programs.
"I'm afraid to do things now because the budget is so unpredictable," said Dr. Russell Booker, superintendent.
Under a new state law, owner-occupied homes are exempt from paying school property tax. Instead, schools will receive funding from a 1 percent sales tax. School districts are concerned they may not get as much from this source.
Businesses and people renting homes can expect their property tax to increase by six mills, which works out to about $36 per $100,000 value.