Alternative school could become option

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Cassville R-IV School District has started planning for an alternative school that could be introduced on the Cassville Middle School campus next year.

"Our at-risk personnel have visited several districts that operate alternative schools and reviewed plans from the alternative school that Cassville operated in the past to develop a plan to possibly start a new alternative school," said Superintendent Jim Orrell. "An alternative school has not been authorized by the school board yet. We are just in the planning phase right now."

Administrators are working to write a grant that could help the district receive a Safe Schools Grant or other state funding that would be used to fund the proposed alternative school.

"We could possibly come back after the summer and begin offering an alternative school in the fall," said Orrell. "This could also be delayed until sometime next year or we might decide not to go this route at all."

If the district receives funding and approval for the program, the alternative school would be located in the Cassville Middle School. The district would look at hiring one or two teachers and an aide for the alternative program.

"The last alternative school that was offered in Cassville was a cooperation with other schools," said Orrell. "We would not be going that direction again. We would offer classes for Cassville High School students and possibly Cassville Middle School students down the road."

The alternative school, like the program that the district operated between the 1997-98 and 2001-02 school years, would offer an alternative learning environment for students who are at risk of dropping out of school due to disciplinary, attendance or other issues.

"This program would keep those students in school," said Orrell. "It would help them get their high school diploma and help them be more successful in life."

The number of students who could be served by the alternative school would be directly related to the amount of grant funding that the district receives for the program. If the school is able to hire two teachers, the program would serve around 30 students. One teacher could serve around 15 students.

"Due to the public support that Cassville School received on the bond issue in 2006, we have been able to bring more local funds into the district and build the new intermediate school," said Orrell. "This has freed up some classroom space that will now be available for other programs like this."

The Cassville School District discontinued the alternative school program after the 2001-02 school year due to a lack of grant funding and state monies for alternative programs.

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