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Alternative education overhaul considered

Published 10:42pm Thursday, March 20, 2014

Enhancing collaboration between the Turlington Woods alternative school and base high schools is among various proposals from a Suffolk Public Schools committee exploring options to redesign alternative education programs.

As well as increasing collaboration between teachers, counselors and administrators, interventions would also be enhanced to “reduce undesirable behaviors and increase academic achievement,” according a presentation to School Board members last week by Corey Hamlin, supervisor of alternative education, and Corey McCray, director of the Pruden Center.

New measures would also be introduced to review and strengthen the so-called response to intervention model, improve student transition for those entering and leaving Turlington Woods, and to implement check-up monitoring forms.

“This will actually be a minimal additional cost to implement,” Hamlin said.

The district is looking at phasing the changes. The Turlington Woods School Daytime Alternative, WorkPlus Academics and Individualized Special Alternative Education programs would be implemented in the coming school year. Changes to the High School Alternative Program would be introduced in the following year, and to the Middle School Alternative Program in 2016-2017.

While students were being placed in WorkPlus on recommendation from teachers and/or administrators, test scores were not factoring in the decision, McCray said.

A pre-WorkPlus program would better prepare students to be successful in WorkPlus by capturing those not yet ready for the GED test but who would be by the end of the second year, he said.

Students would take a “pre-test” to determine whether they were WorkPlus or pre-WorkPlus students, and the Individual Student Alternative Education Plan (ISAEP) application packet would be introduced.

In phase 2, the committee has recommended centralizing the High School Alternative Education Program from all three high schools to King’s Fork High School.

“When you move teachers into a central location, they can share ideas (and) they can figure out who would be better with what group of students, based on what they are licensed to teach,” Hamlin said.

Likewise, the middle school program would be centralized to King’s Fork Middle School, for the same reasons.

There was also discussion on introducing a dress code at Turlington Woods — for instance, Hamlin said, a button-up shirt and khaki pants.

“We hope this is something that would already be existing in their closet,” he said.

According to Deputy Superintendent Jacqueline Chavis, a detailed plan for implementing each component of phase 1 will be developed for 2014-2015.

“Next school year, the subcommittees will revisit the Phase 2 of design and under the direction of the superintendent determine next steps for its implementation,” she said in an email.

Also at last week’s meeting, board members officially approved a snow make-up plan that spares Saturdays by changing the three early dismissal days before summer break to full days.

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