WASHINGTON — There will no longer be a top 10 list of graduates and valedictorian at Washington Community High School beginning with the Class of 2021.
School Board members Monday approved an administrative proposal to switch to a Latin system of recognition for graduates with a 3.5 or higher grade point average.
The breakdown will be cum laude for 3.5 to 3.899, magna cum laude for 3.9 to 4.299 and summa cum laude for 4.3 and above.
Gold cords awarded to graduates with a minimum 3.5 GPA also will be a thing of the past when the new system is put into place.
The board's unanimous vote ended more than a year of discussion and research by high school administrators, staff and board members.
"We thought originally this could be a controversial issue, but it's turned out to be a positive change," said board member Gloria McNett. "Students will have more class options now. A lot of high schools are going to this honor system for their graduates."
Board member Jennifer Essig asked Superintendent Kyle Freeman if the GPA breakdown is flexible.
"Absolutely," he said. "Anything can be changed. We'll evaluate the breakdown with the ebb and flow of graduating classes."
Freeman said at previous board meetings that the biggest problem with the top 10 system at Washington is some students get so focused on making the top 10 list that they don't take classes on subjects they're interested in or could establish a foundation for a future career.
"We've had students go to college to study business but they didn't take any business courses here," he said.
Freeman examined the grade point averages of the last four Washington graduating classes and determined that between 33.9 and 42 percent of graduates would have been honored under the new system.
The numbers of cum laude, magna cum laude and summa cum laude honorees would have broken down appropriately into thirds.
For example, in the Class of 2015, there would have been 30 cum laude grads, 29 magna cum laude grads and 31 summa cum laude grads.
In other action Monday, board members approved increasing the student registration fee from $85 to $100 and the substitute teacher rate from $85 to $95 daily beginning with the 2018-2019 school year.
A survey of student registration fees at Mid-Illini Conference high schools compiled by Washington Assistant Superintendent Joe Sander showed an average of $111.94 for the 2017-2018 school year.
The highest was Morton at $180 and the lowest was Pekin at $2.50, but most elective classes at Pekin have a fee.
The last time Washington raised its student registration fee was 2014.
Freeman and Sander said Washington has been paying its substitute teachers $85 per day for many years. The administrators said a pay increase is urgently needed because of a shortage of subs.
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.