Cheney Free Press -

 
 

By JOHN McCALLUM
Editor 

New diploma option for struggling students

 


A collaborative agreement between Cheney Public Schools and Community Colleges of Spokane will now provide an avenue for students ages 16-21 struggling in high school or dropping out to earn a diploma while also making inroads towards attending college.

The school board approved the agreement at its first meeting of the month last Wednesday to initiate the Gateway to College Initiative Program with both community colleges and the Institute for Extended Learning. Under the agreement, which runs Sept. 23, 2013 to Dec. 31, 2016, the school district and IEL will be responsible for identifying, referring and recruiting students eligible for the program using Gateway to College criteria, with community colleges providing access to their campuses for programs.

According to the agreement document, students will follow an academic plan with a “prescribed core preparatory curriculum…required for one or possible two quarters of study.” Classes will consist of developmental math, writing and college study, with students developing educational plans “that they follow as they continue work, assisted by an academic resource specialist, towards attaining a high school diploma and an associate degree.”

“There really are students who are lost along the way in a high school environment who would really benefit from this program.” district student support services assistant director Shannon Lawson told the board.

District Superintendent Debra Clemens added that the program is for a limited number of students, and already has several students enrolled beginning fall of 2012.

“For those students, it will make a huge difference,” Clemens added.

In other business the school board approved revisions to a pair of policies regarding a safe and orderly learning environment and mandated drug and alcohol testing among its transportation drivers. Associate superintendent Sean Dotson said the biggest changes in the learning environment policy were the addition of sections defining how staff is to be contacted by members of the public, and conditions under which someone will be removed from a building.

The district’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s drug and alcohol testing policy underwent a major revision with whole sections on testing requirements, record retention and reporting along with education training and referral services being removed. What is left is more streamlined, referencing specific federal DOT legal testing policy and breaks out marijuana from controlled substances.

Finally the board signed off on a pair of resolutions. The first is a resolution urging the state Legislature to address K-12 funding through adoption of a “comprehensive system of stable and sustainable revenue” meeting public school basic education requirements.

The state Supreme Court ruled in January 2012 that the Legislature was not meeting its constitutionally required duty to make ample provisions for basic education, finding that part of “ample” means fully funding education. The Legislature adopted several bills in 2009 and 2010 defining basic education, and the resolution approved by the school board asks that they meet these by providing at last $1.4 billion more for education in the 2013-2015 biennial budget.

“School boards throughout the state have passed this,” Clemens told the board.

The school board also adopted a resolution recognizing the work of the district’s classified staff as part of Classified School Employee Week, March 11-15.

John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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