Current high school sophomores in the Olentangy Local School District will face new graduation requirements.

Current high school sophomores in the Olentangy Local School District will face new graduation requirements.

District officials announced this month that updated graduation requirements will eliminate redundancy in the curriculum and increase scheduling flexibility.

Director of Secondary Education Mark Raiff reviewed the changes at the Jan. 10 meeting of the school board.

The new requirements will affect all students starting with the class of 2015. Changes will be phased in over two years.

Students who are juniors or seniors this year will not be affected.

"We are changing the game on current sophomores, but they have two years to take these courses," Raiff said. "We believe there's enough time and opportunity for that."

Starting in 2015, the district will eliminate the Personal Finance/Post-Secondary Planning course as a requirement for all students. It will remain as an elective.

Board member Julie Wagner Feasel said it's an example of a course that can be a distraction for certain ambitious students.

"It can really get in the way of scheduling an (Advanced Placement) course load," Feasel said. "It just threw a wrench in your junior- and senior-year schedules when you were really trying to ramp up those college applications."

Also in 2015, social studies requirements will be lowered from 3.5 credits to 3 credits. U.S. history, U.S. government and economics all will be required courses.

Economics currently is an elective course.

Starting in 2016, students no longer will be required to take a one-semester public-speaking course.

Raiff said speech class is redundant as a requirement; speech skills still will be developed through the English curriculum.

"Some of these skills are so critical, so I want to make sure that we're really clear that the content is covered somewhere else," said board member Stacy Dunbar.

Raiff added: "We're increasing the flexibility for scheduling, and that's huge for our students."

Despite the elimination of some required courses, Olentangy students still will be required to earn 22 credits to graduate.

Most students exceed that, Feasel said.

"A lot of kids are taking AP science and anatomy, or doubling up on their math classes," Feasel said. "These kids are working extremely hard. It's just amazing."

As an added benefit, Raiff said the changes will enable the district to slim down its staffing roster without laying off employees.

Personal finance and speech teachers will move to other subjects and won't be replaced, even as the district's overall enrollment continues to climb.