November 19, 2018 - Over the past five years, Sidney City Schools has been able to help hundreds of students reach the ultimate educational goal of graduation thanks to the Sidney Alternative School. In recent years, however, the district has seen a decrease in the number of students needing this special service and has therefore deemed it worthwhile to absorb the alternative school program into our middle school and high school buildings.
At the time Sidney City Schools started the Sidney Alternative School (SAS), there were curricular and financial reasons for doing so. Previously, the alternative program that was housed in the Parkwood building planned to move their services to a facility in Bellefontaine. Sidney City Schools did not believe this transportation to be beneficial to students’ education or to the district logistically. Factoring in the increased charge for students to attend the facility in Bellefontaine, the district determined it could run an alternative school in its own building – and do so at a cost savings.
In the time since the district took over that building and alternative education program, the district has been able to seek ways to meet the needs of our students without making them go to a separate building.
“We’ve worked to develop programs within our buildings and use existing programs such as Opportunity School, Midwest Regional Online Learning Academy (previously known as SCOLA), or Sidney Virtual Learning Academy (SVLA) to help students graduate,” says Sidney Curriculum Director Brooke Gessler.
There are currently 50 Sidney students housed at SAS, with a total staff of 15 including teachers, aides, a principal, a secretary, and a dedicated building resource officer. The certified staff will continue to serve the district in the other buildings.
“Knowing we can continue to service these students in the same capacity within SMS and SHS, integrate them back into school with their peers, and offer them more opportunities to take electives has really been the catalyst for this change,” says Sidney Superintendent Bob Humble.
At the same time, the district is proving to be good fiscal stewards of taxpayer money. By closing this building, the district will save around $250,000 each year.
Passing the most recent renewal levy provides a temporary cushion for the district, but the five-year financial forecast still shows deficit spending beginning in fiscal year 2018 with the carryover balance being depleted beginning in fiscal year 2022. The district will continue to look for ways to curb that deficit spending without sacrificing student services. The ultimate goal is to provide a high-quality education while still being fiscally responsible.
"Closing the SAS building and absorbing the program into SMS and SHS is really about streamlining the delivery of education to prevent a duplication of services,” says Humble.
And for now, absorbing alternative education into SMS and SHS streamlines the services and expands opportunities for our students who need the program.