Proposes name, curriculum changes

Taylor Anderson, Big Sky Weekly Assistant Editor

Jerry House, as part of a three-person committee, presented his recommendations for changes to the Ophir schools and Lone Peak High School curriculum during a February school board meeting.

The changes include increasing the minimum credit requirement to earn a diploma from LPHS from 22 to 27 credits, and offering an honors diploma for students that earn 30–32 credits.

The group also would like to change the name of the school district from Ophir to Big Sky. The schools have operated as part of the Ophir School District for 99 years. House said the name change is a branding move, and would capitalize on recognition of Big Sky.

The changes will be an action item during the next board meeting in March, meaning the board will vote on a formal proposal brought forth by House during that meeting.

“It’s only realistic that we look at the 22 for juniors and seniors but also for freshmen and sophomores next year” to increase to 27–32 credits, he said.

One member of the public questioned the value in having an honors diploma, to which Loren Bough said it was another way ambitious students could separate themselves during college applications.

House, along with school board member Barbara Rowley and athletic director Tony Beardsley, presented the information after months of preparation and public feedback.

The changes will affect current eighth and ninth graders beginning starting next school year. Current juniors and sophomores will graduate based on current graduation requirements.

In order to adapt for the changes, House has recommended increasing the current math teacher from part time to full time. The school would also consider creating a position for Capstone Project liaison to bridge the school with the community. That position would likely be part time.

The group hosted three public forums for input on the proposed changes.

House is in the middle of his first of two years as the school superintendent. He said despite the long-term changes he’s putting in place, he will leave after next year.

“The bottom line is it’s a systemic approach,” he said. “It’s not the person, it’s the system that survives. People come and go.”

The board also delivered for the first time House’s annual evaluation during his first year as superintendent. House scored above average in every category.