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In addition to everything else I've already written about from last night's school board meeting, the board heard a proposal for changes in the city's graduation requirements. The changes -- which will be presented again before a board vote --  would officially make the HSAs a graduation requirement in Baltimore. But that's just a formality. More significantly, they would eliminate the so-called "gatekeeper" courses: To go from ninth grade to 10th, students currently must take and pass English 1 and Algebra 1; going from 10th to 11th requires English 2 and geometry or American government.

The administration's presentation to the board says the gatekeeper courses:
-- "do not benefit students who have earned sufficient credits to be promoted to the next grade"
-- "unnecessarily prevent students from taking upper-level classes on-time" and
-- "unnecessarily discourage at-risk students by freezing their school status based on an outdated policy."

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The board also voted last night to increase tuition for non-city residents next school year by 10 percent, from $3,500 to $3,850, over the protests of member Anirban Basu. It delayed voting on a proposed 30-percent increase for the 2010-2011 school year, which would bring tuition to $5,000.

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