Extracurriculars may be required to graduate
After-school activities seen as good for future success
New Berlin — Participation in some kind of extracurricular activity may become a graduation requirement of the New Berlin schools.
A significant amount of research shows that participation in school-supported programs is related to students being less likely to get into trouble, being more likely to attend school more regularly and being more able to move their careers further, Superintendent Paul Kreutzer said.
The School Board on Monday directed the staff to look into how such a requirement might work, what it would cost, what extracurricular activities would count toward graduation and the impact on students.
A report could come back for a first reading as early as the 7 p.m. April 26 School Board meeting. If approved on its second reading, the requirement could go into effect this fall, Kreutzer said.
The board went on to give administrators the go-ahead to recommend updates to the graduation requirements in general.
Kreutzer agreed that work could be done.
"There are things to look at there," he said.
That review also might tie into his philosophy that seniors should not be allowed to take more than one study hall just because they have met all the graduation requirements.
"They should take a class," he said.
Examples of extracurriculars that would meet the graduation requirement would be interscholastic sports, although probably not intramurals, Kreutzer said, choir, band, orchestra, art club and National Honor Society.
Currently, more than 80 percent of students in both high schools participate in some extracurricular activity, Eisenhower High School Principal Michael Fesenmaier said.
Board member Peggy LaSalle approved of the idea but said, "I want to be cautious so we do not cause a hardship."
She wants administrators to talk to students to find out why they do not participate. Sometimes a family situation means a student has to come home right after school or maybe a student must work.
The high schools already try to remove barriers that can keep students from taking part in extracurriculars, Fesenmaier said.
Fees might be one thing that keeps students from participating, LaSalle said.
Kreutzer acknowledged that New Berlin's fees are high. Administrators will explore whether some fees should be lowered.
If fees are what keep students from participating, the schools work with the families, Fesenmaier said.
Board member Art Marquardt said fees that are too little to bother with should be dropped.
"We have whiny fees that probably cost us more to collect," Marquardt said.
WHAT: the first official School Board consideration of changing the graduation requirements to include participation in an extracurricular activity
WHEN: as early as 7 p.m. April 26
WHERE: New Berlin West Middle/High School, 18695 W. Cleveland Ave.
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