Saturday school?

Portage Northern changes earn back policy


Ben Lewis, Staff Writer

Recently administrators changed Portage Northern’s Earn Back Policy and a few students are riled up. For those who don’t know, students who end up with 10 or more absences in one semester have the opportunity to earn back those hours. The controversy is that the earn back time that was hosted down in the lower commons after school has been moved to Saturdays.

“I think [the staff] was just trying to make it more difficult on kids and I think that’s ridiculous,” says Grant Perrine (10). Some students feel this same way, but is it really just the administrators trying to make life harder or just trying to help students get to school?

“Historically, there wasn’t earn back time until about 5 or 6 years ago. But in recent years, we implemented earn back time as an option to help students who get themselves into the situation of having a large number of absences,” said Assistant Principal Justin Walker.  He further explained, “The new changes are meant to make it more inconvenient to a student.  So when they have those days where they are debating whether or not they want to go that day, they will know that that day will be easier to go to than the Saturday make up time. We simply want our students in school.”

The number of students having ten absences or more is a growing problem. Right now, about ten percent of all students are in the situation where they need to make up time. It is because of this, the administrators are doing everything they can to try and prevent any more absences.

According to the student body, there is one major issue presented with this change. With this Saturday AM policy, students don’t have a bus taking them to or from the earn back session. “There will be no bus, because again, we want it to be inconvenient. The more inconvenient it is, the more the kids will debate not coming to school,” says Walker. Some who agree with the change do not agree with the absence of transportation. “I think the idea and the reasoning behind changing it makes a lot of sense; however, I think there should be some sort of transportation provided. Maybe if they had like two buses that covered a big range of bus stops, they could just pick up the few kids doing the earn back time,” says Ross Argue (10). In response to the transportation issue, Walker said, “Of course, students can still make arrangements with their teachers to earn back time after school should the Saturday transportation be a problem.”

While there may not be a way to make everyone happy, Walker says, “Students are not required to come to earn back sessions as students can still pass the exam with at least a 77.5% score.” This policy is simply a way of helping those ten percent of students with 10 or more absences make up time.

So what should students who attend a makeup session on a Saturday expect? Mr. Armitage will be running the classes, but the administrators are still working on the details. I would assume it is very similar to how it is now, being that students come in similar to a detention and make up for the hours they missed. “I volunteered to teach this because I taught Saturday school before,” says Armitage.

Overall, this policy is meant to prevent absences. Students can avoid being here on a Saturday morning by attending school regularly. Earn back time isn’t required –  it is a resource to help students who choose to take advantage of it.