Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
E-town discusses options for low enrollment classes
BY CHAD UMBLE, Staff Writer
At Elizabethtown Area High School, a few science classes no longer have a critical mass of students.
Biology, chemistry and physics courses attract some of the lowest student class enrollments, prompting officials to consider how to either spark more interest or reduce the offerings.
During a meeting April 16 of the school board's curriculum committee, officials discussed how to handle low demand for some classes, offering possibilities that included reducing a biology position and a chemistry position to half-time.
Timothy Re, the high school principal, said that to avoid having science teachers sitting idle, classes have been split up, resulting in a biology class that could have as few as 12 students.
With physics, there are enough teachers and classes to accommodate some 150 students, Re said. But this year, just 68 of the high school's more than 1,200 students opted to take the class.
"I understand it is physics, but with a school the size that we have, that is still a very low number of students taking physics. A very, very low number," Re said.
One possibility with physics, Re said, is to change it to allow students to get a math credit for it, which could make it more attractive.
To graduate, students must take any three science courses from a list of 17 that includes one biology class, one physics class and five different chemistry courses. Students must take four math courses to graduate, unless they complete calculus by the end of their junior year, in which case they only need three.
While science courses account for some of the main low-enrollment classes, they aren't the only ones. Re said that among the three journalism classes offered, one has only four students.
Re suggested that journalism and yearbook could return to being extra-curricular activities, moves that would also free up some English teachers for other classes.
And, Re said that while it is a perennial offering, the "Shakespeare and His World" course has not been run "for years" due to lack of interest.
Re said he will give the school board an update next month on all the low-enrollment classes. The update will include recommendations on which ones are to be -- and which ones are not to be -- offered next year.