An alternative high school was brought up to the board of education four to five years ago. However, with financial reasons, the BOE was never able to act upon the new proposal. However, the economics have changed and a skeleton plan for an alternative high school might be able to be enacted soon to benefit many selective students.
Those students who are at Huntley High School now are struggling; even with the support system that benefits them. Those programs range from PBIS, academic supports, raider seminar, and much more. However, for some students those resources are just not enough.
This is also shown to the fact that 53 students in District 158 do not have the certain credits to graduate high school. Some of those kids are even in middle school and they need to be able to have an option to get the help that they need before they go into high school.
Now a majority of those 53 students are a part of HHS. Due to poor attendance and behavior, this leads to this group of selective students to become disengaged in a social environment. Hence, how students may feel overwhelmed in a bigger school and may not be able to do their best.
There can also be more factors that can go into students not succeeding and that could be either with the mental health of the student, or the substance usage of the student. Either way, Danyce Letkewicz, associate principal of student services at HHS is fighting to find a way to help the needs to all of the students in HHS.
“These kids are so much more than their data points that we’re looking at, we’re losing them,” said Letkewicz. “We need to find a way to meet the needs of all of our kids and that is the challenge that we are faced with as educators.”
Ways that the alternative high school can provide is to take a selective group of students to an off site location within district boundaries. There would be smaller class sizes (1:13 ratio), teacher implementation from HHS, and even the students could have the opportunity to have work and volunteer hours to make up for their credit hours lost.
With that being said, the eligibility for students to get into the alternative high school is that the student needs to be expelled, has documented social issues, refereed to by a problem solving team, or the student has the desire to be in the program.
This would then provide the students with an active learning environment to get back on track to gain their missing credit hours. Their grades would also be monitored daily to also make sure they are on track.
However, this program will not work for all students, but can give back to the students that are struggling with whatever they have going on in their lives.
This all comes down to the hidden issue that Donald Drzal, board president, mentions.
“There are a lot of struggling families and kids with a lot of issues, and also at times the parents do not know what to do,” said Drzal.
This all leads to the lending hand that District 158 is giving to these struggling families to their kids. They can go to the alternate high school, be taught, learn, catch up on credits, and work. Then in little to no time, they will be back to HHS with their peers.
Overall, the plan to build an alternate high school is a wise choice due to the fact that the BOE is taking on an issue that is prevalent in our community. Once acted upon, the skills that these certain students will learn will help them for long term success, and eventually prepare them for the real world.