About 30 recent dropouts from Lakeland schools say they would return if the district offered an alternative school for them.
School officials may find out next fall if that’s the case.
With little discussion Monday, the Lakeland School Board gave administrators the go-ahead to apply for state funding to operate an alternative high school this fall.
School counselors and administrators surveyed dropouts and students at risk of dropping out and found 38 students wanting to attend an alternative school.
School officials are estimating that average daily attendance for the new program would be 29 students.
“With attendance rates going up and down, we estimated conservatively,” said assistant superintendent Ron Schmidt.
School board member Harry Selby, who teaches at Coeur d’Alene’s alternative school, advised that class sizes be kept small.
“I’d like to see it in the 12 to 15 range,” he said. “Otherwise, you stick them back in the same situation that put them at risk.”
Of those students who expressed interest, about 10 are currently enrolled in New Visions alternative high school in Post Falls.
Now, Lakeland students who want to continue school in an alternative setting have no choice but to go to New Visions, a cooperative program between the two school districts that was established five years ago.
A few Lakeland students, or exstudents, are also on New Visions’ waiting list of 25 names.
Those, too, were included in the survey.
Post Falls school officials said they believe they can maintain New Visions’ target enrollment without Lakeland’s participation and Lakeland’s share of federal funding for the program.
To attend an alternative high school, students must be 14 to 21 years old and meet several criteria that identify students who are at risk of dropping out of school.
Having already quit school is one possible qualifying characteristic.
Superintendent Bob Jones said the next step in planning the school is to get teachers involved who may wind up teaching there.
The school, which might be put in the former Rathdrum Upper Elementary School building, would initially be staffed by three teachers, one part time.
The teachers would have to be capable of teaching more than one subject.
Aside from a basic curriculum, the school would provide personal and career counseling, and possibly additional services, such as day care.
Four students in the survey expressed a need for child care.