New changes for Calcasieu alternative students?

New changes for Calcasieu alternative students?


New changes could be coming this fall for students in Calcasieu Parish alternative programs. Details were discussed Tuesday evening at a school board meeting.

The board’s Curriculum and Instruction committee met to vote on proposed changes for alternative program students in elementary, middle and high school. They heard from a group of Calcasieu educators who have been working on the ideas since March.

"The committee has continued to meet frequently, about once every two weeks since March," explained Aaron McDonald, one of the committee members.

The special committee proposed merging the two elementary alternative sites.

"Mainly because Positive Connections has not developed as a day treatment center and CASES is not just a disciplinary program for suspended and expelled children," explained Dr. Jill Portie, Administrative Director of Elementary Schools.

Some questioned the combination.

"The severely mentally ill and behavior disordered in the same environment? But I truly trust that you all have looked closely at that," voiced CPSB member Annette Ballard.

The proposed change would separate elementary students from middle and high school students.

Elementary students would be taught in the Weaver facility, or the current Positive Connections site, while, middle and high school students would be moved to Reynaud Middle.

Kenny Brown, Principal at CPAS explains their "current location cannot accommodate the much needed changes to facilitate the tiers or levels."

The alternative program committee also wants help with transportation.

"... and require CPSB to provide school bus transportation for all students," added Brown.

The proposed changes seek to add 14 new positions in the middle and high school site and two in elementary. But some like CPSB member R.L. Webb wondered, "What this is going to do to our budget in terms of our cost?"

Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus answered, "At full implementation, it's probably half a million dollars with transportation."

While Bruchhaus says it's not cheap, "If we're going to have the program and expect it to be successful and we're going to hope that these students can transition back into schools then we need to provide the opportunity for them to succeed."

The C&I committee approved the proposed changes, but it’s just a recommendation that still needs to go before the full board for a vote. The full board is scheduled to meet in August.

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