The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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March 5, 2013

Lincoln future up in the air

CLINTON — The Lincoln alternative program will change next year, but whether that change involves shuttering the Lincoln building remains unclear after Clinton School Board members on Monday voted down a resolution to relocate the program to a building adjacent to Clinton High School.

The resolution before the board during their regular meeting Monday called for members to approve the relocation of the district’s alternative, or tier III program, from Lincoln to a building owned by the district adjacent to Clinton High School.

This move, Superintendent Deb Olson said, would allow these students to take advantage of resources and more supports for learning than they currently have at the Lincoln campus.

“We know that there’s been a tradition at Lincoln and there’s been so many good things that have happened there. However, it’s not going in the direction we really want it to go in the future. And so we really need to try something different,” Olson said. “So that’s kind of what we are proposing tonight, which is a change. Now whether or not this change will work I can’t really tell you if it will work 100 percent, but I know something’s got to change.”  

Clinton High School Associate Principal Brian Galusha, who serves as the administrator at the Lincoln campus, spoke to the board about the program and the changes that have been made at the high school that have reduced the number of students assigned to the alternative school. Galusha said 37 students are currently assigned to Lincoln, with about 20 to 25 students in the building daily. Not all students would attend class in the adjacent building at the same time, he said.    

Lincoln students continue to attend classes at CHS as well, which would make the switch to the location near the school a more efficient option for those students.  

Board members were discouraged by the site selected for these students.  

“I think it’s degrading to try and put these kids in that building. I really do,” board member Jack Wenzel said. “It looks like we’re trying to stick them in a damn corner and basically forget about them is what it looks like to me.”

Board member Jim McGraw suggested waiting another year until the district can use the modular classrooms that are in use at the middle schools or looking at options other than the one proposed.

“This was the best scenario at least for the coming year at least before we get the new middle school,” Olson said.  

Board President Gregg Obren asked if any space in CHS could be allocated to the alternative program.  Galusha explained that the separate location is critical to the program. The goal of locating the program to the alternative location near CHS would be to get the students close enough so they could take advantage of the options available there, but also have a space independent of CHS where they could get additional support.

The majority of board members were apparently not content with the move to the building adjacent to CHS. McGraw, Wenzel, and Board members Missey Sullivan-Pope, Devin Guillory and Jenny Green voted not to relocate the program.

Although the motion was voted down, the fate of the Lincoln building has not been decided. Discussion could still occur at the board level, but the decision to close the building is one that can be made by administration and does not have to come before the board for a vote.  Both Olson and Obren said they were not sure where the program will be located next year or if it would be discussed by the board again, but know the program will change.

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