The Meramec Valley School District discontinued its traditional alternative high school four years ago due to lack of funding, but officials have not lost interest in helping the students who might benefit from some form of assistance, according to Jeff Adams, PHS assistant principal.
The goal of the alternative high school program was to prevent certain at-risk students from falling through the cracks or dropping out, Adams said, and those students are now the focus of an accelerated program that is tracking their needs.
Speaking at the Dec. 19 school board meeting, Adams noted the alternative program morphed into a transition program when it was phased out due to lack of funding for a full- time school and the district sought to transition the at-risk students into the regular high school program.
Now the transition of those students is on a new track, he said, fueled by technology and a seven-member administrative committee with a single mission.
“Our goal is still to see those students graduate,” he said.
Adams, along with Superintendent Randy George, Assistant Superintendent Terri Parks, middle school principal Russ Rowbottom, high school Principal Tom Sauvage and Riverbend eighth-grade center Principal Ketina Armstrong, are studying programs in surrounding school districts and monitoring the individual achievement of each of the at-risk students.
“Our committee is thinking about our alternative students,” Adams said. “We’ve started the process to switch our alternative program from a transition program to a tracking program, which is being administered by Kathy Bosier.”
The committee knows where each of the students is in their work toward graduation and exactly what each student has to accomplish by the final high school semester.
Three IEP students will graduate in May 2013, Adams said.
“We’re in contact with 19 seniors, who are going into their seventh or ninth semester, to see what assistance we can give them,” Adams said. “The goal is to try to flip the switch for that kid to see him or her at graduation.”
George described the decision to phase out the traditional alternative school as “heartbreaking,” but necessary as the district focused on providing the core courses all students must complete to graduate.
“We never gave up on the idea of an alternative program,” he said. “And we still have a long-range goal to reopen the program if and when funding is available.”
Now the district is using a program called APACS (Association of Program Administrators) designed to advance and meet the needs of students.
Currently a 25-seat online program is available to students. Brosier is working with 24 students on the second floor of the high school building. He has listed every course students need to pass.
“Using the new computer program, which I still have to learn, I can also see courses the kids need to pass,” Adams said.
At-risk students also have access to a computer class at school and at home.
“All the kids have Internet access,” Adams said. “There are two labs during academic advisory and three hours a week if they choose to work on that program.”