BELPRE - A plan to help students lagging behind academically was proposed to the Belpre City Schools District Board of Education on Monday.
Belpre High School Principal Dennis Eichinger gave the board an outline of what the alternative education program would entail and the goals.
"We're faced with a group of students who have difficulty in school and we are in a position where we are trying to engage them in the educational process," Eichinger said. "These students are in 10th through 12th grades and many have no more than 10 of the 21 credits needed to graduate."
The program will be for students in grades eight through 12 who are deficient in credits, fail to make academic progress, have frequent absences, exhibit behavior problems and negative attitudes.
These students would be in a different room with a qualified instructor along with online learning tools and computers.
"With this, we hope to reduce the dropout percentage, increase the graduation rate and have a curriculum that helps the students make up for graduation, prepare for the workforce and continuing education and become productive members of the community," Eichinger said.
The cost of the program is still being calculated, but Eichinger said the school has a qualified instructor, the available classroom and the computers needed.
"We have identified a number of students and hope to have 25 to start," he said. "We have the resources needed, we need the time and an environment to allow these students to participate and learn."
Board member Fred Meredith voiced his shock that these students have been pushed along with their peers without the credits needed.
Eichinger said the school has sent communication to families of these students and provided intervention and the classes the students are supposed to have, but they have not responded to what is offered.
"It is tough and frustrating," Eichinger said. "These students are intelligent, but don't do homework, sleep in class and are totally withdrawn from the delivery systems we provide.
"With this program we are trying to find a way to engage them and get them to realize that education is important," he said.
In other business
Superintendent Tony Dunn updated the board on the heating system issues at the high school, as the furnace is at the end of its life with parts no longer made for it.
"The HVAC systems in the district are to the point they will have to be replaced because we can no longer find parts to fix them," Dunn said.
He showed a map of the high school, which has a converted coal furnace with a blower that is the worst of the district's systems.
The proposal included up to 14 individual heating units for the building that will save the district money as they are more energy efficient than what is now used.
"We want to make sure we put in high efficiency units that will allow for electrical savings," Dunn said.
Estimates for the units are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars that the district has no way to collect without help, he said.
The two options Dunn told the board about are using Ohio House Bill 264, which would allow the district to loan the funds at a low interest rate, or a capital improvement levy.
"I will not recommend a levy at this point, but those are our only two options," he said.
The board also accepted the resignation of high school teacher and athletic director Ken Cox effective June 15.