SAS to close at end of school year


By Melanie Speicher - mspeicher@sidneydailynews.com



The history of SAS

SIDNEY – Over the past five years, Sidney City Schools has been able to help hundreds of students reach the ultimate educational goal of graduation thanks to the Sidney Alternative School.

According to a press release from the district, in recent years, however, the district has seen a decrease in the number of students needing this special service and has therefore deemed it worthwhile to absorb the alternative school program into the middle school and high school buildings.

At the time Sidney City Schools started the Sidney Alternative School (SAS), there were curricular and financial reasons for doing so. Previously, the alternative program that was housed in the Parkwood building planned to move their services to a facility in Bellefontaine. Sidney City Schools did not believe this transportation to be beneficial to students’ education or to the district logistically. Factoring in the increased charge for students to attend the facility in Bellefontaine, the district determined it could run an alternative school in its own building – and do so at a cost savings.

In the time since the district took over that building and alternative education program, the district has been able to seek ways to meet the needs of our students without making them go to a separate building.

“We’ve worked to develop programs within our buildings and use existing programs such as Opportunity School, Midwest Regional Online Learning Academy (previously known as SCOLA), or Sidney Virtual Learning Academy (SVLA) to help students graduate,” said Sidney Curriculum Director Brooke Gessler.

There are currently 50 Sidney students housed at SAS, with a total staff of 15 including teachers, aides, a principal, a secretary, and a dedicated building resource officer. The certified staff will continue to serve the district in the other buildings.

“Knowing we can continue to service these students in the same capacity within SMS and SHS, integrate them back into school with their peers, and offer them more opportunities to take electives has really been the catalyst for this change,” said Sidney Superintendent Bob Humble.

At the same time, the district is proving to be good fiscal stewards of tax payer money. By closing this building, the district will save around $250,000 each year.

Passing the most recent renewal levy provides a temporary cushion for the district, but the five-year financial forecast still shows deficit spending beginning in fiscal year 2018 with the carryover balance being depleted beginning in fiscal year 2022. The district will continue to look for ways to curb that deficit spending without sacrificing student services. The ultimate goal is to provide a high-quality education while still being fiscally responsible.

Closing the SAS building and absorbing the program into SMS and SHS is really about streamlining the delivery of education to prevent a duplication of services,” says Humble.

And for now, absorbing alternative education into SMS and SHS streamlines the services and expands opportunities for our students who need the program.

SIDNEY — The Sidney Alternative School will be closing at the end of the school year.

In an unanimous vote during Monday’s meeting, the Sidney City Schools Board of Education approved a recommendation from Superintendent Bob Humble to close the school.

Sidney High School Principal Brian Powderly, Assistant Principal Clayton Westerbeck and Director of Special Education Chris Barr presented a proposal on bringing the SAS students into the high school for the 2019-20 school year.

“We are proposing a blended learning opportunity for the students,” said Powderly.

The SHS Alternative School within a school proposal, he said, will be located in a large room by the cafe at the high school. It will also include the miniature stage area and two small offices adjacent to each other.

Powderly said there could be 15 to 20 students enrolled in the program. There will be two staff members for the program — a general education teacher and one intervention specialist. They will be using a blended curriculum using PLATO. PBIS will be used for behaviour management and academic success of the students.

There are currently 40 to 50 students enrolled at the alternative school, which is located in the Parkwood School.

Students who do not enroll in the SHS alternative school may enroll in the opportunity school and SCOLA.

The students enrolled will have the opportunity to participate in the credit recovery and blended learning program.

Students, he explained, can move in and out of the alternative room as their schedules require. PBIS will help part time alternative school students move through their day with earned privileges.

Another option within the alternative school is an “In School Restriction” program. This will be used for disciplinary consequences instead of out-of-school suspensions. IRS can support five to seven students per day.

“This will be a space where the students can be successful in the same house where we are at Sidney High School,” said Powderly.

Students enrolled in the opportunity school, said Barr, are usually employed and come to the opportunity school during the “second shift” of the day and evening.

“We were working on expanding the recovery credit program,” said Westerbeck, who is a former SAS principal. “The students need to work on their social skills. By having them at the high school, we can get them involved in the Workforce Partnership program.”

Westerbeck said the class scheduled will be tailored to meet the needs of each student.

Parent Tim Martin, of Sidney, voiced his concerns about closing the school.

“I’m not here as a Sidney City School employee but as a concerned parent,” Martin said. “I disagree with closing Sidney Alternative School. My son, Ty, went to the alternative school and he was successful there.

Ty, he said, was on schedule to graduate when he passed away during a church mission in Mexico.

“I know the teachers care. I know the principal cares. Ty was on schedule for graduation before he tragically died,” said Martin. “There are four students scheduled to graduate this year. This might be best for the budget, but are you doing what’s best for the kids?”

All certified staff members will continue to be employed by the district. However, the board non-renewed the classified staff members due to the closing of the school building. Those employed at the SAS whose contracts were nonrenewed were Bill Shoffner, Tabitha Hughes, Julie Slaybaugh, Kristy Kendall, Nicole Frew, Emily Lewis and Tim Martin.

Board member Mandi Croft asked if the nonrenewed employees will go into a pool that they would be hired first if the need arises.

Humble said that would be the case but they probably wouldn’t be needed elsewhere in the district.

In other business, the board:

• Went into executive session to discuss the employment of a person for the district. No action was taken.

• Approved the resignations of Bryan Snyder, custodian, and Wesley Branscum, aide.

• Approved the employment of Pam Dixon as a substitute Latchkey aide at $11 per hour.

• Employed Scott Roddy, Donna Jones, Greg Snyder, Fran Miller and Erika Brux to work athletic events per OHSAA guidelines.

The board’s next meeting will be Monday, Dec. 3, at the board office at 6 p.m.

By Melanie Speicher

mspeicher@sidneydailynews.com

The history of SAS

SIDNEY – Over the past five years, Sidney City Schools has been able to help hundreds of students reach the ultimate educational goal of graduation thanks to the Sidney Alternative School.

According to a press release from the district, in recent years, however, the district has seen a decrease in the number of students needing this special service and has therefore deemed it worthwhile to absorb the alternative school program into the middle school and high school buildings.

At the time Sidney City Schools started the Sidney Alternative School (SAS), there were curricular and financial reasons for doing so. Previously, the alternative program that was housed in the Parkwood building planned to move their services to a facility in Bellefontaine. Sidney City Schools did not believe this transportation to be beneficial to students’ education or to the district logistically. Factoring in the increased charge for students to attend the facility in Bellefontaine, the district determined it could run an alternative school in its own building – and do so at a cost savings.

In the time since the district took over that building and alternative education program, the district has been able to seek ways to meet the needs of our students without making them go to a separate building.

“We’ve worked to develop programs within our buildings and use existing programs such as Opportunity School, Midwest Regional Online Learning Academy (previously known as SCOLA), or Sidney Virtual Learning Academy (SVLA) to help students graduate,” said Sidney Curriculum Director Brooke Gessler.

There are currently 50 Sidney students housed at SAS, with a total staff of 15 including teachers, aides, a principal, a secretary, and a dedicated building resource officer. The certified staff will continue to serve the district in the other buildings.

“Knowing we can continue to service these students in the same capacity within SMS and SHS, integrate them back into school with their peers, and offer them more opportunities to take electives has really been the catalyst for this change,” said Sidney Superintendent Bob Humble.

At the same time, the district is proving to be good fiscal stewards of tax payer money. By closing this building, the district will save around $250,000 each year.

Passing the most recent renewal levy provides a temporary cushion for the district, but the five-year financial forecast still shows deficit spending beginning in fiscal year 2018 with the carryover balance being depleted beginning in fiscal year 2022. The district will continue to look for ways to curb that deficit spending without sacrificing student services. The ultimate goal is to provide a high-quality education while still being fiscally responsible.

Closing the SAS building and absorbing the program into SMS and SHS is really about streamlining the delivery of education to prevent a duplication of services,” says Humble.

And for now, absorbing alternative education into SMS and SHS streamlines the services and expands opportunities for our students who need the program.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.

Reach the writer at 937-538-4822.