Southwestern will begin veterinary courses to cater to students in pursuit of a career in animal sciences.

Agriculture teacher Greg Schneider proposed adding the new curriculum, which will be implemented next school year for juniors and seniors. The board approved the new curriculum with a 5-0 vote during its regularly monthly meeting Monday.

The classes, which will focus on domestic animals and livestock, could be offered at the Southwestern campus as vocational courses for one to three hours each day. Schneider said that only three other high schools in Indiana offer such a program.

The first year of classes will focus on classroom instruction with occasional observations. The second year will be spent in an internship with cooperating veterinarians.

Schneider said many students who pursue honors diplomas and want to attend vocational courses do not have time in their schedules to drive off campus. Holding the program at the school could change that, he said. He also said he has spoken with two veterinarians about participating in the program.

Laura Boldery, school district treasurer and assistant to the superintendent sat in at the meeting for Superintendent Steve Telfer, who was out due to a medical issue. Boldery said Telfer had heard the proposal and was "very impressed" with the program and new diretion.

The school board agreed. "I know there have been discussions and people coming to me wondering, 'How can we make our school unique?' And I think this is a direction we need to go," said board President Kevin Brierly.

Also during the meeting, Boldery reported that total enrollment in 2012 is slightly up compared with last year. The total enrollment was 1,304 as of Sept. 14, the official state count day. That includes kindergarten students, who count as one-half. Southwestern had lost enrollment from 2009 to 2011.

The state uses the number of students to determine the per-student allocation. Southwestern receives about $6,100 for each enrolled student.

The count is taken twice a year, once in September and again in February. Southwestern had lost about 60 students at the first of the year but was able to regain those students and few more before September, Boldery said.

In addition to the enrollment report, the board gave the OK to eliminate transfer student tuition fees for this school year. Under the current policy, students would have paid $800 each month if they enrolled after the September count day.

Boldery said that in the past week, the school has received eight new students, most of whom could not afford to attend the school if the fee was charged. She wanted the fees lifted so as to not turn away potential students.

"We may pick up more, we may lose, but I think the gamble is more in our favor that we pick them up," Boldery said.

Madison Consolidated Schools also recently decided to wave transfer student tuition fees.

In other business:

• Technology Director Marvin Reece reported that he will use a portion of a common-school loan from the Indiana Department of Education to implement a server and software change in one of the district's computer labs for testing. The loan, which was for $120,900, must be repaid in five years. The school has used about $60,000.

• High School Principal Jeff Bates reported that on Friday the school will begin its first round of behavioral incentives for students. The incentives are based on overall behavior, grades - a student must have at least a 2.5 grade point average - and attendance. About 85 percent of the high school students met one or more of the requirements.

• Jeff Brooks, transportation director, was given the board's permission to establish a pickup site at Girls Inc. in downtown Madison. Brooks said he has received feedback from parents in the area looking to switch schools.

• Southwestern will begin offering free breakfast to all elementary students starting Monday. The school nurse advised that several students have been reporting stomach aches in the morning. Cafeteria Director Wanda Spurgeon recommended the change, adding that there may need to be a slight change in bus routes to accommodate the switch.