WEST ORANGE, NJ – With only an 85-percent graduation rate this past year, West Orange High School fell well short of its goal of having a 95-percent graduation rate, according to Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Rutzky, who addressed this challenge head-on at the West Orange Board of Education (WOBOE) meeting Monday.  

Rutzky said that West Orange is penalized for having an 18-21 transition program that delays students from graduating if it is deemed that they will transition better into the work world or be able to enter a higher education program if they spend more time in high school.

“I would never advocate that this program should go away, even if the township gets penalized with lower senior-graduation rates,” said Rutzky, who said that many students do not graduate based on choice. “Nine students could have been done with high school last year, but we felt they should stay in the transition program. It is a phenomenal program that most communities do not have. Why should we get penalized?”

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Another challenge facing the district is that it currently has 16 high school students who have been in the district for less than two years who are behind on credits. Rutzky said the township gets penalized when these students either do not graduate on time or move elsewhere without graduating due to family circumstances.

WOBOE member Laura Lab said that many neighboring towns have fewer required credits for graduation.

“We require 135 credits, which is over 10 percent higher than the norm in neighboring districts,” she said.

Rutzky said he would look into this issue since the 15-credit difference could be a factor in the West Orange High School graduation rate.

“If we know these students’ profiles, we can intervene earlier and more effectively,” said WOBOE member Mark Robertson.

He asked Rutzky to look into the profiles of students who are not graduating at all or entering the transition program.

The next WOBOE meeting will be held on March 20.

To read more about this meeting, click on the following headline:

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