Board Members consider new Alternative School Program

By Nadia Sanburn, Online Editor in Chief

Board members discussed the development of a replacement for the alternative school at the most recent school board meeting on December 9th. 

Lawrence Alternative High School was closed in 2005. Instead of continuing to put resources into it, the board decided to give more support in the two high schools. According to the December Board Meeting record, the past five years had seen graduation rates decline. 

An Alternative Options Committee has been meeting since August to discuss possible options for students who struggle to succeed in a normal school setting. A news release sent out Monday night described the conclusion the committee came to. 

“As a result of its study, the Committee recommended to the board on Monday the development of the Lawrence College and Career Academy to integrate academic skills into the existing career and technical center,” said the news release. “The Academy would serve students in grades 10-12 who choose to enroll.” 

Lori Stussie, a counselor at Lawrence High, was a strong voice in the fight to keep the alternative school open. 

She thinks that the closing of the alternative school had a negative impact on students. 

“I think there are a lot of kids that I see go through the guidance office at Lawrence High School that I feel like we could have saved with an alternative kind of program,” she said. “Not every kid does well in a huge brick and mortar building, some people just need a smaller setting or a little more flexibility, so I feel like if we could get those students in when they begin to have problems we can hopefully stop some of that, and definitely improve the dropout rate.”

Not every kid does well in a huge brick and mortar building, some people just need a smaller setting or a little more flexibility…”

— Lori Stussie

Stussie thinks the Academy is a great idea, and that the board should move ahead with implementation. She particularly likes the fact that it provides a different option. 

“The fact that it just provides an alternative for students,” she said. “I think that if students can be really successful at Lawrence High or Free State then they still have that option, but for students who struggle or need something just different, I don’t think the quality of education is less than, it’s just different than, and so I think the more alternatives we can provide for students to meet everyone’s needs, the better off we are as a whole.”