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Decision on alternative HS put on hold

By Staff | Mar 11, 2008

The Estherville Lincoln Central Community School District Board of Education Monday night put on hold a decision to take over the alternative school and relocate it to the McKinley building.

The district contracts with Iowa Lakes Community College’s Laker High, an alternative high school with a 24-student enrollment capacity.

Superintendent Dick Magnuson said he would like to see the district be able to handle more alternative students. With Laker High filled to its capacity of 24 students, “that number 24 could almost double” by next fall, he said.

“We recognize the fact that these are different students,” Magnuson said. “They march to a different drummer.”

Magnuson said there would not be up to 48 students in the classroom at any given time. Rather, students would attend classes in sessions of three or four hours and follow an individual educational plan.

Magnuson reiterated Principal Frank Christenson’s plan to have one teacher and a teacher associate.

“We don’t want to operate an alternative school just to save money,” Magnuson said, noting that he had no problem with Laker High School.

Bill Leupold, current Laker High lead instructor, said he is assisted by two other instructors who work 38 hours a week. “Your number of instructors is key,” Leupold said.

Board member Don Schiltz asked about the possibility of leasing the McKinley building to the college.

Leupold said a larger building would allow for a larger program.

“My deal is, do we really want to do this,” Schiltz said. “I think there are some other things we should look at first before we decide anything.”

Christenson said having 40 students at Laker High could cost the district $250,000.

Leupold said every required subject was covered through Iowa Lakes Community College. “We call it a teacher of record,” he said.

Magnuson said if the board waited one year to take action, there could be an additional 24 students who could not get into an alternative school that could not succeed in the regular high-school setting either. “We just have a need to meet some really serious needs of kids right now,” Magnuson said.

Board member Duane Schnell said he believed one teacher and an aide would be understaffing the school. He recommended there should be three teachers.

“These kids feel like they’re dumped on anyway,” Leupold said. “You take them out of a nice, modern facility and shove them away.”

When Schnell asked Leupold what percentage of Laker High students went on to college, Leupold said 30 percent.

After further discussion, the board agreed to table the issue until receiving a budget for Laker High from Iowa Lakes.