In the interest of providing an education for all local youths, the North Platte Public Schools are considering allowing part-time students to take advantage of opportunities previously unavailable to them.
Part-time students most often come from a home school environment, and some come from private schools where they may not have the opportunity to take higher-level classes. Students can take no more than two courses at a time in the public school to qualify as part-time.
North Platte Public Schools Superintendent Ron Hanson introduced possible changes to the district’s policy on admission of part-time students at last week’s school board meeting. The board will vote on the proposed changes at its Aug. 9 meeting.
“The only reason this is a topic of discussion is because our old policy was quite restrictive,” Hanson said. “It used the terms ‘essential courses’ and ‘non-essential courses,’” with part-time students ineligible to enroll in essential courses.
Under current guidelines, essential courses include core classes, such as math, English, science and social studies.
“Our new policy the board is discussing is less restrictive,” Hanson said.
Under the proposed new regulations, part-time students could choose one core class and one elective class.
Hanson said the decision comes down to what the board believes is best for the community.
“We want all of our children to be educated and have an equal opportunity in life,” Hanson said. “If you look at the core classes, and two examples I shared (with the board) are the upper-level math courses and the upper-level science courses, they are difficult to teach at home.”
Some private schools also have limitations in personnel or science labs.
“I think the board, based on the reactions at the last board meeting, says that they want to be more open to part-time students and give them the opportunity,” Hanson said.
Part-time students are eligible for classes, Hanson said, as long as it doesn’t take away opportunities for full-time students.
“Those limitations are defined by the school district board and the principal (of each school) has full authority to deny, based on those limitations,” Hanson said. “The part-time student cannot take the place of any full-time student in a class.”
Rules on part-time students are local decisions, Hanson said.
“If you look across the state of Nebraska, they all have different guidelines, and each board of education can set restrictions to any degree that they want.”
The Nebraska School Activities Association allows home-schooled students to participate in extracurricular sports and activities if they are continuously enrolled in at least 10 credit hours per semester at the public school. A part-time student at North Platte High School taking two classes per term could qualify.
“The main driver behind this is usually the students’ interest in participating in the Nebraska School Activities Association extracurricular activities,” Hanson said. “That’s usually the No. 1 reason why part-time students inquired in the first place.”
Hanson said the process for part-time student applications hasn’t changed. Application deadlines are Aug. 1 for fall semester and Dec. 1 for spring semester.
“The only thing that’s really changed is the opportunity for course selection,” Hanson said.
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