Night school option coming for St. Charles students

 
 
Posted5/17/2016 5:22 AM
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Students who have personal lives or obstacles that prevent them from succeeding during the normal days at St. Charles high schools will have the option of night school come fall.

St. Charles Unit District 303 will pilot a night school program, running from 4 to 7 p.m. a couple of times a week, to provide yet one more school option for students who may not otherwise graduate at all.

For a district like St. Charles, the number of at-risk students at the high school level is relatively small. But there never fails to be about 40 to 45 students who have significant barriers to getting their diplomas, district officials say.

They may have problems getting to school on time because they have younger siblings to care for at home. They may even have a child of their own to care for.

Some may struggle with drug or alcohol problems. Others may have missed significant schoolwork because of a prolonged illness.

Whatever the reason, District 303's Aubree Schuett said teachers want to be proactive in getting students to fulfill all the requirements for graduation.

"We know students who do not meet graduation requirements and need to go into a fifth year, the rate of them coming back is much lower than if they had the opportunity to graduate with their class on time," said Schuett, the assistant director of interventions.

The pilot program will begin by offering both semesters of English for every high school grade level. A team of two teachers and a teaching assistant will also offer both semesters of Algebra I and Algebra II, as well as both semesters of Geometry.

The classes will be similar to the district's summer school model. The instruction will be computer-based, but the teaching staff will be able to provide much more one-on-one and small group instruction with the smaller classes the night school enrollment will allow for.

There will be three trimesters of night school throughout the school year. That will allow for even more scheduling flexibility for at-risk students.

The cost, at least for now, is a wash for the district. The three sessions will cost a total of about $33,000. A mix of money budgeted for summer school and Medicaid reimbursement funds the district receives will cover that cost.

If successful, the night school program may expand to include history, government, economics, science, electives and even gym classes. At that point, the district would seek grant money to cover the additional costs.

Schuett said night school could eventually prove to be the best overall schedule for some students, particularly those with school anxiety.

"We're seeing more and more kids not attending or being put on homebound (schooling) because they have that school anxiety piece," Schuett said. "Night school can provide a more intimate learning experience rather than being a small fish in a big pond."

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