June 11, 2014

Stanislaus County trustees name school, partner to offer more adults a diploma

A school being built for at-risk junior high and high school students has a name, and a second-chance school for dropouts will expand after thumbs up votes by the Stanislaus County Board of Education.

A school being built for at-risk junior high and high school students has a name now, and adults of all ages will get a second chance at a high school diploma.

Both facilities hope to open their doors Aug. 12, said Scott Kuykendall, head of the Stanislaus County Office of Education’s alternative education division. The charter high school for adults will be through a partnership with Learning Quest–Stanislaus Literacy Centers, adjacent to its downtown Modesto facility.

County Board of Education members gave two unanimous thumbs up at their Tuesday meeting.

The newly christened Stanislaus County Institute of Learning, serving mostly expelled students, is rising next to the Ceres post office at Mitchell Road and Whitmore Avenue. The multifunction name fits a multifunction campus, which will house several programs in three buildings designed from the outset for flexibility.

The campus will have a multipurpose room with a kitchen and two classroom buildings, one with seven rooms and one with three. The Ceres independent study high school program, with about 120 students, will share the campus with the Tactical Character Academy. TCA is a boot-camp-style program for about 80 junior high students.

The Stanislaus Arts Academy, originally planned for the site, lost its arts-focused teacher and will not be offered next year, Kuykendall said.

The diploma program for adults has yet to get a working title. Officially, it is part of the Stanislaus County Alternative Charter School that operates as the Come Back Kids program, serving dropouts up to age 23 at the Mildred Perkins campus in the Salida district. The school combines online courses, extra help sessions and job skills training.

The program for adults of any age will have much the same format, opening with about 70 adults, Kuykendall said. It will offer an alternative education diploma, which requires students to pass the high school exit exam but does not demand as many elective course credits.

The adult diploma program will use SCOE teachers, with tutoring provided by Learning Quest staff and volunteers, said Karen Williams, executive director of Learning Quest–Stanislaus Literacy Centers.

“I am really excited about this because we at Learning Quest have been limited in the number of adults we can serve due to funding constraints and are turning away people who want to prepare for the GED test,” Williams said Tuesday.

Nearly a quarter, 24 percent, of Stanislaus County residents never finished high school, according to the latest American Community Survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We see this as just the beginning of what we hope will become a countywide effort with multiple sites and helping more adults achieve a high school diploma as a result,” Williams said.

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