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Attendance, donations and alternative programs taken up by school board

High School principal, Ken Parshall indicated at the district board meeting earlier this week that attendance among high school students has made a dramatic improvement over last year’s figures. He reported a 45 percent reduction in absences. Parshall said that the change was due to a concerted effort on the part of staff, students and parents and he stressed that the parents should be recognized for their willingness to work with staff over this issue. The improvement followed policy changes in respect to student absences and as well as increased communication between staff and parents. Although the drive to reduce student absences has required more man hours to track the students, Parshall indicated that the results were well worth the effort. He also asked the board to consider hiring another staff person to help take the load off of some of the other staff people. Other business included the acceptance of several donations including $5,000 from the Clint Giovanini Memorial Fund toward the purchase of a $12,350 vehicle which is being used in the new driver’s ed program, computer related donations from Ellen Youngbluth and Lawrence McDonald and a $500 donation from the Exxon Mobil Foundation and Juniper Fuel of Prineville towards the Read Across American program. Crook County High School alternative program director Rebecca Popelka gave an overview of the on-campus program. “Our kids that are struggling in the system could go either way, and alternative ed’s hope is to try and give them the extra support they need so things could work out for them the way we would like,” she said. “The goal of our program is to get kids caught up on their credits and mainstream them back into regular education system so that they can succeed.” She indicated that students are placef in the program after they have failed at least one class, although many students who are in alternative education are failing in more than one area. Between 20 and 25 students per class period work at their own pace to accomplish their individual goals. A variety of educational tools are available to help including individual support packets, computer programs and internet classes. “We try to keep it really calm and predictable out there.” she said. “A lot of people have the idea that alternative ed classroom are kind of wild, and it’s actually one of our calmest classrooms, because that’s what these kids need.” Popelka indicated that 39 kids received their credits in the alternative education this year.