Students who act up in the classroom tend to take away precious hours of learning. Now the district is going through a district-wide attitude adjustment to provide students with an alternative.
Inside Wilson Middle School this fall could be as many as 150 students from 6th to 12th grade. Only 15 kids would be in each classroom, but this school isn't being looked at as punishment for repeat offenders but a chance to give students on the road to expulsion a fresh start.
Alternative Principal Dave Rossi says, “We are going to concentrate on fundamental academics, math, English and social studies. We are going to have counseling sessions, daily group sessions and individual counseling."
Principal Dave Rossi and Principal Dan Hofeditz believe in this school so much they came out of retirement. The two will lead a staff of 14 that are determined to change the negative mindset often formed about problem students. The staff is expected to be strict, energized and well trained. After explaining the ins and outs of the school, this diverse group discussed what was left out. Some questioned what will happen to the student when it's time to return to their old school.
Kay Stand, a parent of a child who attended an Alternative school, stated, "You can't take kids from an alternative setting and turn them back into where they were without a transition person."
Dave Rossi replied by saying, “We are going to be spending time in secondary schools before school starts and talk about what how we expect them to assist students who do make it through our program."
School Board member Mike Williams questioned how the students will catch up on potentially months of required courses like chemistry? Williams questioned if too much emphasis is being put on changing behaviors and not enough on academics. Williams wasn't alone in his concern.
Deryk Hayes said, "What I do see is caring leadership figures. One thing that will definitely not work is the downplay of the curriculum."
But these are just little kinks to be worked out since this alternative school is intended to work out a major wrinkle that is frustrating staff and parents. For too long they say too many students have been getting out of school suspension, which is like a mini-vacation from learning.
After Tuesday night’s meeting some modifications may be made to the day to day operation. On average students will stay a minimum of 30 days at the school and could be there for a year. Each student will be monitored on an individual basis.