Alternative schools face changes in Mesa - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Alternative schools face changes in Mesa

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Posted: Wednesday, June 14, 2006 11:04 am | Updated: 3:48 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The Mesa Unified School District wants to change the image of its alternative schools and offer more choices for students who aren’t thriving in large schools.

Newly hired Paul Wright, director of development for the district, detailed for school board members Tuesday a list of possible changes, saying the comprehensive high schools aren’t reaching all students and some students just need smaller campuses.

Wright said he asked district officials what other options were available to students who didn’t perform well in the large schools.

“The answers were all over the board,” he said.

Currently, students can attend the alternative schools only if they’ve fallen far behind in their schoolwork or broken a district rule, Wright said.

Under new proposals, schools such as Mesa Vista and Boulder Canyon high schools and McKellips and Power middle schools would not only get new names, but would no longer be called “alternative schools” because of the negative connotation associated with the title, he said. The schools would accept only up to 400 students.

The new “focus schools” could offer shortened school weeks — from five days to four — as well as assistance for credit catch-up, and classes available to train students in careers such as health care.

District Superintendent Debra Duvall said the schools could even be converted to charter schools so local professionals without education degrees could be hired to teach vocationrelated course work.

Changes could happen as soon as the next school year if board members approve proposals, but Duvall said the reform will take time. A date has not yet been set for the proposal to go before board members.

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