EAST ROCKHILL — Starting with next year’s ninth graders, who will be in the class of 2026, Pennridge High School graduates are all expected to take and pass a personal finance course under a proposal discussed at the the Pennridge School Board Curriculum Committee meeting on February 7.

“That’s one of the district’s goals in the current comprehensive plan,” Superintendent David Bolton said. “We have developed courses, but now we recommend that it be part of the requirements.”

The district already has a financial basics course and a personal finance course and is proposing that a specialized course in personal finance be added, said Howard Vogel, the district’s K-12 math supervisor.

“I think everyone should take some sort of course like this,” board member Ronald Wurz said.

Board Chair and Curriculum Committee Chair Joan Cullen said it was relevant and exciting.

“That’s what parents are asking for,” she says. “You see it all the time in the community – ‘Why don’t we teach students this stuff? “”

Board member Megan Banis-Clemens said she’s also heard from businesses and banks asking about personal finance courses.

“It’s mind-boggling to them when they have kids who have graduated and have no idea what they’re doing with school loans or mortgages or car loans or anything like that.” , Banis-Clemens said, “and it’s so important to know how to be able to do these things in life.

Bob Cormack, board member and executive director of the Bucks County Economic Development Corporation, said it was “critical” for students to understand the financial world and asked if, given the number of people creating their own business courses include information on starting your own business and making business plans.

It wasn’t part of the classes currently, but could be added, Vogel said.

The school would like to add 0.5 personal finance credits to the graduation requirements and reduce the credits required for health and physical education from the current two to 1.5, leaving the total at 24 credits, the school said. Deputy Superintendent of Elementary Schools Kathleen Scheid.

Under the plan, aquatic classes would no longer be a required class, she said.

“Every tenth grader has to take aquatics classes right now,” Scheid said. “We recommend that we continue to have water safety and water-type classes, which our physical education teachers have been working on, but not making them mandatory.”

Pupils and parents have called for aqua lessons not to be compulsory, she said, for the reasons given, including pupils feeling embarrassed in swimsuits and feeling uncomfortable changing to going in the pool in the middle of the school day.

“That’s a significant number of students asking not to make it a requirement, so we’re asking to eliminate it as a requirement,” Scheid said.

Other recommendations include the elimination of a double-period lab for chemistry lessons, the reason being that students taking the double-period course have difficulty scheduling other classes during that period on school days. school where the double period does not take place. According to the plan, there would be a single period lab course instead of a double period.

In public comments, Sharon Parkes, a chemistry teacher at Pennridge High School, said she and other teachers are proud of the school’s chemistry program and student achievement.

“We believe that eliminating lab periods would hurt our students’ acquisition of new skills and their ability to compete at the highest academic levels,” she said.

The current district graduation requirements are four credits in English; three credits in math and science; three credits in social studies, plus one elective in the humanities must be in social studies; two credits in wellness, physical education or health; 0.5 credit in creative and performing arts electives; 1.5 credits in humanities electives; and seven general elective credits.

The recommendation is to maintain the English requirement at four credits; begin a new requirement of seven credits in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) education, with the seven credits being three in science, three in math, and one elective in creative arts, technology, or additional math or science; four credits in social studies; 1.5 credits in wellness or physical education; and 7.5 electives, including creative arts, music, world languages, business, physical/health education, or other college courses. The required 0.5 personal finance credits would be either math or business electives.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education sets graduation requirements at 21 credits, three short of Pennridge’s 24-credit requirement.

State requirements are four credits in English; three each in math, science, and social studies; two in arts or humanities; one in health and physical education and five electives in courses approved for graduation.

Banis-Clemens said she thinks the district should have the same requirements as the state, rather than the additional requirements, so students can choose more of their courses.

“We dictate to children what they follow in college. It is in high school that they are supposed to be able to choose the courses that best suit their education and their path,” she said.

“I don’t think we should act like a big government and tell families and children what’s best for them,” Banis-Clemens said. “We are preparing them to become adults and they should be able to choose the courses that best suit their background.”

Students should have more flexibility in choosing their courses, she said.

Bolton said the state list meets the minimum requirements for graduation.

“Our goal is not the bare minimum a Pennsylvania State student can take,” he said.

Pennridge students graduate with an average of about 26 credits, he said.

“We think with some of the changes we’ve made we’ve provided a lot of additional flexibility. It’s not as flexible as it could be, I understand that in terms of what Ms Banis-Clemens would advocate,” Bolton said, “but we think it has increased flexibility for students to have a lot more choice, especially as they enter their junior and senior years, to do what they think is best for them.

“Please know that we come from a place where we just want to expand opportunities for our students,” Scheid said. “Maybe there are other ways to do it, but we came here tonight with some recommendations.”

The recommended changes will not be voted on by the full board in February, Bolton said. The next steps will be to get feedback and questions after the curriculum committee meeting, and further discussions will take place at the committee meeting in March, he said.

In other business at the Curriculum Committee

• Dual-enrollment classes for Pennridge students with Bucks County Community College are currently available, but high school students must take classes at the nearby BCCC Upper Bucks campus and integrate college classes into the high school curriculum, Scheid said.

Students taking dual-enrollment courses earn both college and high school credit for the coursework, giving them a head start on college.

Dual enrollment plans are also underway with Gwynedd Mercy University, she said.

“With Gwynedd Mercy, the way their program works is that students never leave Pennridge High School,” Scheid said.

Classes would be taught at Pennridge by teachers from Pennridge, with Gwynedd Mercy endorsing the curriculum and the instructor, she said.

In addition to starting the Gwynedd Mercy dual enrollment program, Pennridge would like to continue to have dual enrollment with Bucks County Community College, she said, perhaps changing to have those courses also taught in high school.

• College enrollment for prospective teachers is declining, Scheid said, calling it “alarming”.

“We would like to train teachers here at Pennridge and have a future teacher journey, so to speak,” she said.

The high school currently has a future teachers’ club, she said. The district would like to establish more ways for students to gain teaching experience with younger students, she said.

Gwynedd Mercy dual-enrollment classes could include foundation courses for students considering becoming teachers, she said.