INDEPENDENCE — Central High School’s alternative education program is taking shape.

“Our intention this year is to build a strong program with students that we know can stick with us, so we can get the program going,” said Donna Servignat, CHS principal. “Eventually our goal is to be able to bring in some of our more at-risk students into the fold once we have a more solid working program.”

The funding comes out of the High School Success Act, also known as Measure 98, said Jennifer Kubista, superintendent.

“That grant is specifically focused on how do we expand career and technical education, how do we continue to increase our graduation rates, and how do we do dropout prevention,” Kubista said.

Servignat and Jason Clark, program planning and project manager director for the school district, gave an update to the Central School District board of directors at their Feb. 3 meeting.

There are 17 students enrolled in the program, which is housed at the district office.

“We were looking at students who were credit deficient or had some attendance barriers to school, but were still making an effort to be in school,” Servignat said.

They have a hybrid classroom — online courses combined with personalized instruction, specifically with English language arts.

While still in its early stages, Clark said they have already seen some successes.

“We had our first graduate this fall,” Clark said. “We had a great celebration for that student here in Hawk Hall.”

Students start each day as a group and spend lunch together with Community Services Consortium students, which adds to building a community of learners, he said.

While CHS’s alternative education is diploma-oriented and CSC has a path toward earning a GED, they share some common goals.

Shared electives include culinary arts, financial literacy, food handler’s certification, and CPR and first aid training.

“That’s one of the benefits of the partnership,” Servignat said. “We don’t want our students doing everything online.”

That isn’t ideal for most students, she said.

“They need a connection to an instructor,” Servignat said. “We don’t have the staffing to provide multiple teachers, and so this partnership gives students opportunities for career-related electives that can serve them for potential job opportunities later on, but also meets those fine arts electives and just general electives that they need toward their graduation credits.”

School board member Jannice Link-Jobe thanked district staff for taking on the program.

“And Mona (K-Hinds, CSC principal youth advisor) has been so involved in this project,” Link-Jobe said. “She did it by herself for a few years, and I’m so pleased that now we’ve got a partnership. I can’t think of any better community person to work with us than Mona. Good job, girl.”

K-Hinds was in the audience at the board meeting.

Servignat said she also was thankful for the Oregon State Legislature giving them the High School Success Act.

“Without that funding source, we wouldn’t be able to do this,” she said. “So those of you that are voting, that kind of financial support really does make a difference in our schools and the opportunities that we’re able to provide.”

Looking forward, Servignat said she would like to add another teacher to the alt-ed program. Currently there is one who can provide some help with English language arts, and Servignat would like to add one with a math focus.

She’d also like to look at expanding on-site support, such as tutoring, counseling and mental health supports.

“When that’s all at a distance, that becomes a little bit challenging to try to figure out how do we offer IEP supports or how do we offer some ELL supports so that we can broaden out the student groups that we’re bringing to the alt-ed program,” Servignat said.

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