Twenty-seven students who dropped out of East Valley High School say they’ll come back to a new alternative program proposed by the district.
The program fills a niche somewhere between the learning opportunity center - in which students take classes at their own pace - and the alternative high school run by the West Valley School District.
The alternative program will be housed on the East Valley High School campus and will cater to students who need more personal interaction with teachers and more flexibility in their schedules.
“They won’t move as fast to get credits,” said East Valley Superintendent Chuck Stocker, “but they’ll be in school.”
Teachers will be reassigned from the high school to the new program, Stocker said. If needed, the district will hire additional teachers to replace those who move to the alternative program.
The district is hoping for about 50 students, but the program can go with as few as 16, Stocker said. The student-to-teacher ratio will be 16 to 1, about half that of regular East Valley High classrooms.
Working from a list of dropouts, East Valley High assistant principal Ray Stookey called students to ask if they would return to the more personal, alternative program. So far, 27 have agreed to give it a try, Stocker said.
District officials, faced with possible cuts in state education funding, were hesitant to begin a new program. But the district will receive $3,500 from the state for each student who returns to school.
“We built the budget (for the program) around the students we’d be getting back,” said assistant superintendent Tom Feldhausen. “We’re very optimistic that it’s going to fly.”
A variety of factors attracted the students who have agreed to try the program, said Larry Busse, director of special programs.
Each student’s schedule is tailormade, based on individual strengths and weaknesses. Students also can hold jobs during the day, and will receive help in finding jobs. And they can go back and forth between the alternative program and regular high school classes, if they wish.
“It’s not an exclusive ‘here or there,”’ Busse said. “It can be both places.”
Some of the students also have tried and been unhappy with other alternative programs in the Valley, Stocker said.
To succeed in the learning opportunity center or alternative high school, students need to be self-motivated. At East Valley’s alternative program, students will receive additional guidance and support from teachers, Stocker said.
“Could it fail? I suppose. That’s always the case,” Stocker said. “But we’re going to make an attempt to save some kids.”
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Getting in touch For information about East Valley High School’s alternative education program, contact Ray Stookey at 927-3200.