Olmsted Falls launch alternative school for high school and middle school students (Olmsted Falls, Ohio)

Date: July 26, 2014

OLMSTED FALLS, Ohio – The Berea, North Olmsted and Olmsted Falls school districts plan to partner in launching a high school and middle school for students who are not successful in a traditional school setting.

The three districts are partnering to hire Ombudsman Educational Services Ltd., of Libertyville, Ill., to launch a school in Berea that would accept students from all three districts. Ombudsman will provide the districts an on-campus program designed to reduce dropout rates, increase graduation rates, increase attendance levels, and improve academic performance.

The program will service special needs students and those with regular educational needs who have social, emotional or behavioral challenges. Some may also have drug or alcohol issues. Other students may simply perform better in an alternative educational environment.

“It’s a population that unfortunately has tended to increase across the board,” Olmsted Falls schools Superintendent James Lloyd said.

Each of the three districts has agreed to purchase 50 slots in the program during the upcoming school year for a price of $245,000 or $4,900 per student. That is significantly less than districts pay to send students to out-of-district schools that deal with students with special needs or requirements.

“The North Olmsted, Berea and Olmsted Falls schools have pulled together a sort of blended learning program for students who don’t necessarily excel in your typical kind of high school or middle school environment,” Lloyd said.

The schools will use six classrooms in a wing of the former Vivian L. Smith Elementary School as a home for the alternative school. The program will have a ratio of 10 students for each staff member, allowing more individualized attention and small group instruction. Social skill development also is part of the program, using student role playing to improve student behaviors.

The consortium could eventually bring in additional districts or sell some of its unused spaced to other districts.

Ombudsman this year operated small alternative schools in storefronts in Brook Park, Olmsted Falls and North Olmsted. However, this collaboration with the Berea, North Olmsted and Olmsted Falls school districts will bring together students from the three districts into one building, reducing costs and increasing the number of placements available to each district, Berea Superintendent Michael Sheppard said.

“This will create a much better learning environment,” Sheppard said.

Original link: http://www.cleveland.com/olmsted/index.ssf/2014/06/berea_north_olmsted_and_olmste.html

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