Northeastern Wayne Schools wants to learn more about how Indiana’s two proposed diploma options might affect academics, student opportunities and district finances. 

Administrators and board members encourage stakeholders to learn more too, then share comments with state officials soon. 

During NWS’ May 22 school board meeting, Superintendent Matthew Hicks said the new requirements are in the rulemaking phase. He described it as a painting that’s been commissioned, but the artist is still at work.

State officials are now modifying the proposed diploma requirements based on public feedback. Adoption is planned in late summer. 

If approved, Indiana would offer the Graduate Prepared to Succeed diploma, described as a more flexible, personalized version of the current Core 40 diploma and the GPS Diploma Plus, which would require completion of a high-quality work-based learning experience and earning a credential. 

Grades 9 and 10 would focus on foundational courses; grades 11 and 12 would be more personalized. Students would earn points for courses and experiences. 

Diplomas would be aligned to Indiana’s graduation pathways, as well as five characteristics of prepared graduates established in 2021 after public input. They are academic mastery; career and postsecondary readiness (credentials and experiences); communication and collaboration; work ethic; and civic, financial and digital literacy.

Indiana State Board of Education will direct Indiana Department of Education on rulemaking. 

IDOE says its goal is to rethink the high school experience, making it more learner-centric and career-relevant. 

However, Hicks said rural school leaders have several questions. He expects requirement modifications could affect how schools are staffed or scheduled, and changes could be great for some students but not others.  

Some concerns relate to partnerships required to provide career experiences for students.  Fountain City has few employers, and NHS would compete with other Wayne County schools to find sites for internships, apprenticeships and other hands-on learning. It’s still unknown if students could pursue Ohio opportunities.  

Honors diplomas would be eliminated. Hicks said he’s asked legislators why a diploma with a high success rate is disappearing. He said it might be comparable with Indiana College Core, but that’s unconfirmed, and some students might prefer high school over college courses.

The changes could reduce the number of fine arts teachers, or schools might be able to get by with half their current English and math teachers, or maybe neither, Hicks said. At this time, grades 11 and 12 would only be required to earn two math and four English credits. 

Hicks said the matter is personal for him because his own seventh grader is in the Class of 2029 and will be affected. 

Board member Dan VanDuyne said he wants the community to have a voice on how plans are shaped before approval because most families wouldn’t realize how their kids are impacted until it’s too late to comment.

Kelly Plank, NWS’ director of curriculum and instruction, said some of her specific concerns include how many credits students need to graduate and how schools would be financially impacted if students graduate a semester or more early. Schools already receive less per-student funding when students graduate in December.  

Bond hearing, gym painting

Northeastern High School has costly pressing masonry issues, especially around the gym walls, leading to water leaks.

The east wall appears to be moving away from the north and south. The board approved spending $18,900 in rainy day funds for a thorough assessment that will include boring holes for cameras to check rebar.  

NWS is pursuing a $5.7 million financing bond to repair masonry, update heating and cooling at the elementary, and tackle other facilities projects such as track resurfacing and football field lights if any funds remain.    

The district’s property tax rate would increase 13 cents (.1332) per $100 of assessed valuation in 2025, or about one-tenth of 1%. 

No residents spoke during the bond hearing, and the board voted unanimously to proceed. Taxpayers have one more chance to address board members about the bond at a public hearing at 6 p.m. May 29 in NWS’ student services building, 7299 U.S. 27 N., Fountain City.

Approval is expected that night. 

Board members also approved new signage and memorabilia rearrangement in Larry Moore Gymnasium once the gym is painted to match the ceiling. School officials want to draw more eyes to the refurbished Knight mural.   

In other business

  • NHS’ archery team will shoot at 1:30 p.m. June 6 at worlds in Daytona Beach, Florida. Donations for trip expenses are still needed and can be sent to NHS, 7295 N. U.S. 27, Fountain City, IN 47341, with archery in the check’s memo.  
  • Northeastern Early Learning Center earned a perfect score in its Paths to Quality state assessment. Forty-four preschool graduates are planning to enroll in NES kindergarten this fall, while one is going to another school. Next year’s 4-year-old classes are full; a couple of seats remain for 3-year-olds. 
  • These Students of the Month were celebrated: Early Learning Center, Trinity Yates; Elementary, Layne Henson; Middle school, Sophia Seward; High school, Mason Blair; along with middle schoolers who were selected for Wayne County Area Chamber of Commerce’s Civics Bee.
  • Paraprofessionals received up to $500 each from a grant for participating in special education training, depending on how many after school in-person and video sessions they joined.
  • Math and reading curriculum was approved for grades K-8. It will be used for four years.
  • Administrators are planning a Joy Jam e-learning conference this summer with other districts.

What’s required to earn new diplomas?

Learn more about Indiana’s two proposed diplomas — Indiana Graduate Prepared to Succeed and GPS Plus — at

Public comments may be submitted at

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A version of this article appeared in the May 29 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.