Principal of Payson High School (PHS) Brian Mabb has lots of ideas for reinstating class offerings — but calculus is still not in the mix.
At the March 24 school board meeting, Mabb gushed about offering AP (Advanced Placement) statistics, AP art, AP music and adding onto the Spanish language program.
“Our music program has moved forward with leaps and bounds. Mr. Beraun has moved it forward ... and we are going to look at expanding our music program,” said Mabb. “Same thing with Spanish, we need to do more with language. Right now we have a Spanish 1 and 2. We are hoping to bring on a Spanish 3 program.”
“I’m really happy to see adding a Spanish 3,” said board member Devin Wala, board member. “That said, with respect to calculus, I am very concerned that universities require calculus ... it should not be up to their classmates to determine what college they attend.”
Wala learned last year how much competition Payson’s college-bound students face when his family researched colleges for his son.
At a board meeting last fall, his wife, Laurel Wala, reported her family discovered Payson needed to add more language classes, more AP offerings, and calculus for students pursuing engineering, the sciences, math, even animal sciences to get into the top universities.
“Harvey Mudd (college) told us, ‘We would admit your son, but he must complete calculus somewhere else before we would enroll him at Harvey Mudd,’” said Laurel.
Laurel said colleges told her students in engineering and the sciences that have not taken basic classes such as calculus lack the skills to keep up. The colleges said they find it easier to simply deny such students entry.
Payson Unified School District administrators have decided they need eight students to justify offering a class. They fear they don’t have enough interested students, so they will not offer calculus in the 2014-15 school year.
Gila Community College (GCC) currently offers a calculus class, but only in the spring. Mabb has talked to GCC administration about offering the class year-round. However, students will have to pay $360 in tuition for the four-unit class.
“Kudos to the community college for offering classes such as calculus,” said Barbara Underwood, board president.
Board member Rory Huff had concerns about expanding the Advanced Placement offerings. “I have been through one of these AP cycles before, we end up with five students in a class, then they don’t pass the AP exam,” he said. “I’m concerned from the fact we’ve been down this road before.”
But board member Jim Quinlan applauded the effort to increase rigor and offerings.
“If people are looking to move to Payson, businesses want to know, what is the academic rigor?” he said.