Clinton, Camanche agree to open alternative high school

Jake Mosbach/Clinton HeraldThe Gateway Area Community Center, 1850 S. Bluff Blvd., will provide space for the new Clinton Community School District alternative school which is set to begin operations with the 2019-2020 school year. The initiative will start off with a one-year lease. Administrators with study the success or failure of the program at the end of that year.

CLINTON -- Clinton school officials are exploring the possibility of reinventing an alternative high school at the former Henry Sabin Elementary School building.

Located at 1850 S. Bluff Blvd., the building is currently owned by Jorge Landa Rodriguez and operates as the Gateway Area Community Center. Clinton district officials are looking to lease space in the building to offer students who may benefit from an alternative education an environment in which to succeed.

Camanche Schools are also involved in the plan which has a target of 40 students from Clinton and 10 students from Camanche utilizing the school, said Clinton Superintendent Gary DeLacy.

"We have kids who are really struggling with education in a traditional environment," DeLacy said Monday. "We're not meeting their needs with what we're currently doing.... We're really looking at an off-site program but making it much more innovative and off-base."

The proposed agreement is just a trial, one-year lease, in which DeLacy, staff, and students can get a feel for the ins and outs of the alternative program, DeLacy said. The Superintendent has expressed "intrigue" regarding the facility's use as a community center as well, and said the tools already in the building could assist students for after-school opportunities.

Current plans for the 2019-2020 year involve the hiring of two paraprofessionals, a secretary, four staff members, a counselor, a social worker, and one Student Resource Officer. Other expenses would be rent, an administrator stipend, curriculum formation, and "miscellaneous," according to the school district.

In total, the alternative school would cost $527,500. The Camanche district would foot $105,500 of that bill in the first year of an agreement.

If the districts are satisfied with initial results, a second year agreement Camanche would contribute $65,500, decreasing its funding as they would see "less operational sharing," the district said.

The program, which aims to bring alternative education back to Gateway-area students, is a worthy cause, DeLacy said, hopefully drawing success out of students who just need a different way to find it.

The superintendent is cautiously optimistic that the desired results will come to fruition.

"(Camanche Superintendent) Tom Parker actually visited (the site), and we decided we're going to do a one-year lease with them, and we're going to see how it goes, and if it meets our needs or not," DeLacy said Monday.