May 10, 2017

District Converting PCS to Alternative School

The Pickerington Schools dropout prevention and credit recovery program will have a new name this fall, but for students and parents this change will not mean major changes in provided service.

Pickerington Community School will be renamed Pickerington Alternative School effective for the 2017-18 school year. The district is making this change because of changing requirements and constraints on the district’s ability to offer a Community School.

The Board of Education voted Monday night to take formal action making the transition to Pickerington Alternative School.

“The programming for the students is not changed,” according to Bob Blackburn, Pickerington Schools Assistant Superintendent and Superintendent of Pickerington Community School. “They will continue to receive the same services they are currently getting through Pickerington Community School, with the focus being the online curriculum (APEX) for both credit recovery and new credit.”

Blackburn said the program’s focus will continue to be the same as in the past: Ensuring each student has the individualized tools and opportunities needed to graduate.

“An individualized graduation plan will be designed for each student to help them graduate and reach their future goals,” he said. “The program’s primary focus will be serving our students who are primarily 16 to 21 years old and who are not succeeding in the regular classroom environment.”

The classes will continue to be offered at the same location at Pickerington High School North. Only students living in Pickerington school district will be eligible to attend the Alternative School.

Blackburn said Pickerington Alternative School will continue to focus primarily on students who are at risk of not graduating, but that there also will continue to be opportunities for other students who would benefit from a self-paced learning environment.

“One benefit is that some students also will have access to classes and programs at both North and Central,” Blackburn said. That means PAS students will have more educational opportunities than PCS students currently can be provided.

Another change is that students at the Alternative School will be considered Pickerington students. (The state considered PCS to be a separate entity from Pickerington Schools.) That means diplomas will be from Pickerington Schools, and standardized testing results will be reflected on the district-wide report card issued each year by the state.

Another change for the new school is that students will have to be referred to Pickerington Alternative School by a high school counselor or other administrator, Blackburn said.

“The students will have to be approved prior to attending the Alternative School,” Blackburn said. “Currently, students can self-enroll in PCS.”

Nearly 130 students were served by the Community School in 2016-17, although there were never more than 100 students enrolled at one time, Blackburn said. That is consistent with previous years.