By Joshua Winata
Killeen Daily Herald
COPPERAS COVE – After a two-year review of alternative education programs, the Copperas Cove Independent School District is turning to campus administrators to turn the district goals into a campus reality.
At Tuesday's school board meeting, CCISD trustees accepted recommendations from Superintendent Dr. Rose Cameron on ways to improve the alternative education program based on the sunset review report, which presented its findings to the school board last month.
The sunset review committees, which were commissioned by the school board and began in 2003, examine CCISD programs from both a cost and efficiency perspective and propose recommendations on how to meet the intended objectives. The studies usually take one school year to complete, but the alternative education programs have been under review for two years due to their broad scope. Administrators made campus visits to several successful alternative education programs throughout Texas to learn new ideas and validate old ones.
Cameron said she hoped to incorporate the report's recommendations in with district-wide goals and then work with campus administrators to tailor them specifically to the alternative education program.
"What we're trying to do this year in our district is to look at the big picture," Cameron said, referencing new technology initiatives and academic programming such as dual credit courses.
"We know a lot of times we know how it will help kids in the regular schools, but we'll be looking at how we can help the at-risk students as well as the students in the discipline side."
The sunset review committees brought forth a number of recommendations, the first of which was to separate the academic alternative education program, also known as Crossroads High School, and the disciplinary alternative education program, which is used as a discretionary or mandatory placement for misbehavior. The two programs are currently housed together in the Avenue E Alternative Learning Center.
Former Avenue E Principal Kelly Avritt, also a member of the sunset committee, said such a move would allow the academic AEP to cultivate a positive image.
"They're not bad kids at all. They just have different home-life situations, and they really need a place to go where it's not huge and it's not daunting," Avritt said. "Because of the disciplinary alternative school being there, it's very hard to have that distinction and that delineation."
Cameron said the program's needs will be investigated by a facilities assessment study that will begin next school year.
In terms of programming, the sunset committee presented a number of ideas, such as establishing a Graduate Equivalency Diploma Program, reducing credit requirements and expanding dual credit partnerships with Central Texas College. Those programs, which have some equivalent established at Copperas Cove High School, are the ones Cameron hopes can be adapted at the campus level with the assistance of district administration.
Jimmy Shuck, who last school year served as an assistant principal at Copperas Cove High School, will be swapping jobs with Avritt and leading the alternative programs as principal next year. CCISD administrators are working closely with Shuck and said they are excited about his ideas and enthusiasm.
Cameron added that the committee's other proposals, including reducing the student-teacher ratio to 12 to 1, hiring additional behavior interventionist staff, and providing transportation services to reduce absenteeism, will be handled during the budget process as it is with every other campus.
Both Cameron and the sunset committees recommended exploring agreements with the Bell County Juvenile Justice AEP for the disciplinary side of the alternative education program.
Contact Joshua Winata at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7476.