New school offers options

Published 2:11 pm Friday, July 11, 2014

The Butler County Board of Education voted on Tuesday at a special called meeting to create a virtual high school.

The new school will be located on the Board of Education campus in classrooms that adjoin to the BOE boardroom.

The school will also serve as the district’s alternative school.

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“Our goal is to create a virtual high school on the BOE campus that can serve not only the students who need an alternative setting due to a behavior incident, but also for students with other interests who might thrive in the individualized alternative setting,” said Butler County Schools Superintendent Amy Bryan. “For instance, a virtual school in another county serves some students who fit school in around their work schedule with varying days and hours, and some are there for credit advancement to graduate early or to catch up.”

Prior to the start of the 2010-11 school year, the BOE elected to move the district’s alternative school from a separate location to areas on the campuses of Greenville High School, Greenville Middle School and Georgiana School.

The move was a cost-cutting measure that saved the school district approximately $114,178 for the 2010-11 school year by eliminating an administrator position.

However, board members have not been pleased with the change.

“From what I’ve heard from students and teachers, what we’ve done the last couple of years has basically been a joke,” said board member Joe Lisenby. “It just hasn’t been effective as far as educating our students.”

Bryan said one of the issues that is created as a result of the current arrangement is that it forces school officials to expel students with behavioral issues in order to remove them from the school’s population.

“One of the problems it solves is having a way to remove a student from the greater population to a place where learning can continue and where the behavior issue can be addressed rather than expelling the student,” she said. “Expulsions mean no learning, no graduation, no job, and so on.”

Carlton Edwards, a teacher at Georgiana School, said he supports moving the alternative school to its own campus and would welcome the opportunity to serve as one of the school’s teachers.

Edwards is dually certified in math and physical education.

“I think it would be a lot better if we moved the school back (to the BOE campus),” he said. “These are at-risk kids, and they need to be in an environment where they are getting help. If we do that, maybe instead of these kids walking in prison lines, they’ll be walking across the football field to graduate.”

Bryan said no staffing decisions have been made, however, she plans to have an administrator on the campus and hopes to employ dually certified teachers in order to keep the costs of the school down.

“There will be a cost associated (with moving the school to the BOE campus), but I plan to make it minimal,” Bryan said. “The variation will depend on the pool of teacher applicants, the number hired, and the curricular purchases for virtual school options we might need at this site.”

The Butler County Board of Education will hold its regular monthly meeting July 24 at 6 p.m. in the boardroom.