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posted: 6/20/2012 6:48 PM

Huntley 158 considering alternative school

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From courses that prepare students for careers in the medical field to implementing a blended learning environment that uses online learning as well as regular classes, leaders in Huntley Unit District 158 constantly seek ways to expand educational opportunities for all students.

The latest proposal recently brought before the board of education was for an alternative school that would serve students who struggle to succeed in a traditional setting.

Although the idea is still at the informational stage, Chief Academic Officer Mike Moan said the board and district superintendent are supportive of the idea. The proposal, however, was not included in the 2012-2013 budget.

"We are not at the point to recommend it to the board yet, but we brought forward information on what an alternative school would cost and this is the type of thing we would like to run," Moan said. "As the district is becoming larger, more kids fall into that category and we need to find ways to address their needs."

School board President Michael Skala, who requested that administrators present the proposal to the school board, said the alternative school would serve about 30 students.

"At the high school level especially, there is a segment of the population that I feel, and administration feels, we could be doing a better job of servicing," Skala said. "There are students that don't fit into the typical high school day. How do we prepare them to do whatever it is they do when they leave the district and how do we give them the tools they need to succeed?"

Currently, students attend the Great Expectations Program in Union, which is run by the McHenry County Regional Office of Education, or a special education placement in the area, Moan said.

In a memo to the board, Moan said the proposed alternative school would run at Huntley High School from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Students must be a junior or senior with poor attendance and a deficient number of credits that put them at risk of not graduating on time. Exceptions could be made for freshmen or sophomore students on a case-by-case basis.

An estimated cost of the alternative school is $334,360, which includes hiring three teachers, a part-time administrator, social worker and counselor, as well as transportation for students.

"Everyone wants it," Moan said. "But where's the financial and population tipping point where it makes sense for us to do?"

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