Bozeman High makes Newsweek list of top schools

05/20/2005

Thursday, May 12, 2005 Bozeman High makes Newsweek list of top schools By GAIL SCHONTZLER, Chronicle Staff Writer

Bozeman High School is No. 368 in Newsweek magazine's latest ranking of what it calls America's 1,000 best high schools.

Bozeman High was the only school in Montana to make the list, which includes 1,036 U.S. schools. It moved up from No. 460 the year before. "That's quite impressive," School Board Trustee Denise Hayman said at Monday night's meeting, adding a thanks to Principal Godfrey Saunders.

"The kids have done a great job, as well as the staff -- I can't take any credit," Saunders said. "But they're good."

The rankings are based on the number of students taking college-level Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes, divided by the number of students graduating.

Washington Post reporter Jay Mathews, who created the Challenge Index, based it on studies that found students who took the rigorous college-level classes were better prepared for and more likely to graduate from college, even if they didn't score well on the exams.

The list includes only schools that open their AP classes to average students, and don't limit test-taking to only their best students.

Bozeman High allows every student to take the classes and the exams, Saunders said. If a student can't afford the cost, Saunders said he has money is set aside to help them.

Last year, 341 of Bozeman High's 1,800 students took a total of 663 AP tests, said Bill Franks, associated principal.

Of those students, 85 percent earned a score of 3, 4 or 5, which makes them eligible for college credit, Franks said. The national average is around 61 percent, he said.

Bozeman High also had the two students named AP scholars for the state of Montana -- Nicole Guillian and Kevin Locke.

"We offer more AP courses than any other school in the state," Franks said, when asked why Bozeman High is the only Montana school on the list.

On other school matters, the School Board this week:

-Swore in newly elected trustees Sara Garcia, Gary Lusin and Martha Collins.

-Re-elected Bruce Grubbs as board chairman and Carson Taylor as vice chairman.

-Appointed Susan Brooks to the new school district Foundation board.

Voted 8-1 to spend nearly $49,000 to replace old light fixtures in the shop classes in Bozeman High's H wing. Trustee Eric Bryson voted no, saying if the entire school is renovated, the money could be wasted. Trustees who have been working on the renovation plan, however, said they're confident H wing will remain in use.

€ Voted unanimously to award a $68,000 contract to Townsend Electric to replace light ballast fixtures in Morning Star School. Northwestern Energy will contribute $13,500 and it should save $6,200 a year in energy costs.

€ Voted unanimously to award a contract for $484,000 to Ingram Clevenger Construction of Helena to add a classroom to Irving School and do other remodeling.

Gail Schontzler is at gails@dailychronicle.com