The Hays USD 489 school board discussed new graduation requirements for students who will be freshmen in the fall.

The new requirements were created by a statewide education task force and will affect all schools in the state.

English requirements will change from four credits to 3.5 English credits and a half credit of communications, including speech, debate, forensics, journalism or public speaking.

The history and fine arts requirements will remain the same with three credits of history, government and social studies and one credit of fine arts.

Hays High requires three credits of science and three credits of math. The new requirements will include three credits of science, three credits of math and one STEM elective. The science, technology, engineering, and math elective must be a non-entry level course.

USD 489 requires one credit of PE/health, one credit of practical arts, one credit of computer technology and six electives.

The new state requirements will include a half credit of physical education, a half credit of health, a half credit of a new financial literacy course and 4.5 elective credits.

The financial literacy course will be a combination of personal finance and economics and will be new across the state.

Hays High is still in the process of developing that course, which will probably be offered for the incoming freshmen in their junior or senior years.

Hays USD 489 will require four additional electives for a total of 8.5 elective credits. The state will require a minimum of 21 credits for graduation. Hays will require 25 credits. However, most students will complete 28 credits in a standard course of study over four years.

Hays allows certain students who are at risk to graduate with 21 credits.

Some students, with their parents' approval, opt to graduate early with the 21-credit minimum. HHS Principal Shawn Henderson said only a handful of students chose to graduate early.

Students will also be required to have two postsecondary assets. 

See the list below.

Some examples of these could be an ACT score of 21 or above, a senior project/exit interview, youth apprenticeship, 40 or more community service hours, or participation in two or more high school sports or activities.

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Shanna Dinkel said the average credits for graduation across the state is slightly over 25 credits.

All students will also be encouraged to complete the free federal financial assistance forms for post-secondary education.

The district will have to adjust two of its policies to meet the new state requirements. The board will vote on those changes at its next meeting in March.