A new Turlock Unified School District program will help at-risk 9th and 10th graders at both Pitman and Turlock High Schools, the TUSD Board of Trustees heard Tuesday.
Although the new BRIDGE program will not begin until the 2013-2014 school year, the Board of Trustees showed enthusiasm for the new program, which provides a hybrid approach of textbook and online learning. By implementing a modified schedule, at-risk students will be able to recover lost credit as well as modify their behaviors.
“This program will affect their behavior and give them options,” said TUSD Trustee Dr. Harinder Grewal. “It is a win-win program.”
Currently, there is no alternative setting at either high school for the placement of 9th and 10th grade students who need direct instruction and/or a modified schedule to make up for credit deficiencies.
The new BRIDGE Program will accommodate 30 students at both Pitman High School and Turlock High School, providing independent study, online learning, tutorial support, and direct instruction.
During the current school year, both Turlock High and Pitman High have lost a combined 111 students to John B. Allard, the alternative high school in TUSD for students that have been expelled.
With the new BRIDGE program in place, at-risk students will have the opportunity to modify their behaviors and gain lost credit without having to leave their school.
“Independent at-risk is very difficult,” said Dana Trevethan, Interim Assistant Superintendent at TUSD. “We needed to find an alternative placement for these students. I would also like to say that some of these students who are considered ‘at-risk’ did not really have a choice, and many things were out of their control, such as their home life.”
Trevethan further stressed this, stating that several students that are considered ‘at-risk’ have only missed school and have credit deficiencies due to having to work to help support their household, as many come from low-income families.
“These are good kids, some who have just made bad choices,” said Trevethan.
The BRIDGE program will use a designated classroom at both Pitman and Turlock High School on the perimeter of each campus, to prevent disruption from student arrival and departure.
Recommendations for placement in the program will be directed to the Office of Pupil Services where both students and parents will agree to the expectations and guidelines of the BRIDGE program, as outlined in a contract.
TUSD will need to place a teacher at both sites for the new program who possesses a multiple-subject credential and is experienced with alternative education, technology and in supporting at-risk students.
The expected cost of the program is approximately $180,255, including two teacher salaries, allocation, annual Edgeunity License fee, 30 new computers and two new printers, furniture, and other start-up costs.
“I think this a great thing to do,” said Trustee Frank Lima. “I understand the challenges facing at-risk students, and I understand that these concerns have been acknowledged while creating this program.”