The Tulpehocken Board of School Directors discussed an updated version of the alternative education program that was discussed at last month’s meeting.
Previously the school discussed using another building as an alternative for the students who did not want to go to an alternative school, but rather be in the virtual school during the expulsion. Instead of using another building which would cost money and hiring staff when it is unknown how many students would need to use such a facility (Tulpehocken had a rare six students expelled last March), the plan was to try a homebound model with a teacher assigned that the student would meet with for a certain number of hours a week, off of school property.
What was discussed at the Sept. 17 meeting was a hybrid of that design that Tulpehocken Area School District Superintendent Edward Albert and fellow administrators talked about at lunch earlier that day. For this meeting, Albert was asked to bring an update on how the program was working.
“We have calls from parents due to lack of motivation,” Albert told the board. “It weight on me heavily.”
In March the students will enter back into school as they had prior to expulsion. The results so far from Albert are that the students are not striving in the system the way that it stands now. This hybrid would use a preferred substitute teacher who has multiple degrees and would spend a certain number of days per week for a set number of hours with the students. It was suggested that the students be in two groups and possibly use the district office as the meeting place.
“It’s one more way of reaching out and helping,” said Albert. “We’re listening. We want to help.”
School board members Lisa Hassler, Dennis Baver and Oscar Manbeck saw potential in the program, but raised concerns on the amount of time the student would have for one on one with the teacher in person.
“I don’t think it will work,” said Manbeck. “They need more time.”
The thought at the time of the meeting would be to designate two days a week for a certain number of hours. Albert mentioned throughout the meeting that the plan was still being worked out as it was just discussed earlier that day.
“If the kids show enthusiasm, maybe do more days,” suggest Albert.
Baver wanted more frequency “to give these kids a chance.”
“It’s a good idea,” said board member Beverly Blatt. “It’s worth giving it a try. It’s like learning to play an instrument.” She used the comparison on not mastering an instrument in a short period of time with long hours, but rather on starting slow and building on the hours.
The board did acknowledge that they want to help the students so that they are ready for their return to the school come March. Both of the pilot programs would cost less money than using another building and hiring staff for a program that may or may not have students.
As with the previous alternative education pilot program, the board agreed to give the program a 45 day trial period.
After the meeting the board had a quick executive session.