April 24, 2014

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North Ridgeville eyes creating alternative school

NORTH RIDGEVILLE — The city’s school district is considering an in-house alternative school for next fall.

Superintendent James Powell discussed the project during the annual State of the Schools address Thursday at the North Ridgeville Education Center.

The project would have students work online under the direction of a teacher-adviser at the high school for part of the day while allowing time for those same students to have jobs outside school.

“One of the problems with online schools is that students do not have the support they need to be successful,” Powell said.

Most students who leave public school settings for some form of alternative online education find they are not able to keep up with the course workload.

“They often leave (public school) thinking this is going to be fun not having to go to school without realizing how much time it takes to do online work,” Powell said. “They go back to school realizing they lack the credits and are not going to be able to graduate, and then we have to come up with ways to catch them up so they can graduate.

“That’s the fallacy of online schools,” Powell said. “There’s no support mechanism.”

Powell did not have numbers on how many students leave the high school but said the majority return after one or two years.

Plans call for the alternative school to begin on a small scale “and we’ll build from there,” Powell said.

Specifics of how the alternative school would be staffed and operated have yet to be worked out.

Students who attend alternative classes would have a shorter day than other students to accommodate work schedules.

“Most of those kids have jobs, and we’d try to incorporate that to give them the ability to work outside school,” Powell said. “We want to figure out ways to give those kids good foundations, and we believe that keeping them in-house makes them more successful.”

Another motivation for the in-house alternative school is reducing the amount of state money lost for each student who leaves.

“We’re trying to combat several issues,” Powell said. “We lose money when they leave, and then it costs us money to catch them up” through efforts tailored for returning students.

Powell also:

  • Thanked the community for its support with passage of a 5.9-mill levy last November, which, after many ballot defeats and nearly five years of budget cuts, will allow the district to focus its efforts on bettering student achievement.
  • Pointed out the strong academic performances by students at the high school, middle school, Wilcox and Liberty elementary schools.
  • Said North Ridgeville High School was among only 17 Ohio high schools to receive the Ohio High School Athletic Association’s Harold A. Meyer Award for sportsmanship, ethics and integrity.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.