TURLOCK — A new program is coming soon to help at-risk high school students stay in the system.
Turlock Unified School District trustees heard Tuesday night about a proposed Bridge Program that will blend independent study with direct instruction and online learning at Turlock and Pitman high schools for the 2013-14 school year.
The intent is to bring those students who have left the district for alternative education because of poor academics or behavioral problems back with a school within a new program tailored for their needs.
"We do not have in this district any sort of alternative placement for ninth- and 10th-grade students," said Dana Salles Trevethan, interim assistant superintendent of educational serv-ices. "It has been a struggle (for these students)."
The district currently loses students in need of credit recovery or behavior modification to Turlock's John B. Allard School, an alternative education site run by the Stanislaus County Office of Education, or other institutions. This year, 111 students went to Allard alone.
The ultimate goal of the program would be to bring the students back into a comprehensive classroom setting, Trevethan said. The program would start out at each school with one classroom of 30 students; the class would be placed near the perimeter of the campuses to avoid disruption to regular classes.
Bringing those students back could be a financial boon for the district, funneling in more Average Daily Attendance funding from the state. The district estimates that it can bring in an additional $204,900 in ADA revenue, which would help pay for two full-time instructors.
To begin, it would cost the district an estimated $180,000, which includes a continuing cost of about $120,000 combined for the teachers.
While the students who would qualify for the program all face some sort of involuntary expulsion, Trevethan said this isn't an effort to bring "criminals" onto school campuses.
"These are good kids who just made poor choices and are struggling academically," she said. "With the right program and right support, we can get them on the right track."
While no vote was taken, school trustees expressed overall support.
"This is very creative, to come up with this to help students correct their behavior and give them the option to stay in Turlock school system," said trustee Harinder Grewal. "And on top of that is revenue, so it's a win-win."