GREENCASTLE -- The Greencastle Community School Corporation Board is considering implementing a night school program to help reduce the number of students dropping out of high school and to increase the graduation rate.
One day before classes started for the 2010-'11 school year, Greencastle High School Principal Randy Corn presented before the board the idea of accepting funds from the Western Indiana Knoy Learning Center grant to create the Internet-based program.
The 21st Century Community Learning Centers grant received by Cloverdale Schools would give $7,750 to each participating school to assist in the implementation of a night school as part of a consortium of 17 schools across five counties.
In addition to Greencastle Community Schools, North Putnam and South Putnam school districts are included in the proposed consortium.
Per the stipulations of the grant, the monies, which are renewable for four years, would be used to pay for a teacher to oversee the night school and for transportation for students. School districts are asked to pay teacher salaries and transportation expenses out of the general fund and to submit a request for reimbursement.
The only funds the district would pay for would be for renewable licenses for an Internet-based credit-recovery program, which would total an estimated $2,600. Students would pay nothing out of pocket to participate, Corn said.
Currently the district uses Compass Learning Odyssey, which is limited to English 9, English 10, Algebra I and Geometry, and costs the district $9,000 for 15 licenses.
Corn said by upgrading to another program, remedial juniors and seniors would be able to pursue credit in many more subjects.
To meet the requirements for the grant, Greencastle High School would need to run 25 students through the night school each of the four years, Corn said.
The plan would be an alternative to taking classes at Area 30, which offers four recovery credits each semester. With the night school plan, students would be able to take more on a schedule that suits their needs and abilities.
Corn proposed hiring a retired teacher who would not necessarily be a math, English or social studies teacher to continue working with students.
However, board president Bruce Stinebrickner said in theory students could meet their credit requirements without ever stepping foot in the night school.
"This person could provide tech support and encourage students in the learning environment," Corn said.
To count for the grant, each student must spend a total of 30 days for a minimum of one hour each day, Corn said.
The board discussed the idea after Corn presented the idea and ultimately decided to consult with other districts as well as Area 30 alternative school before taking action.
Greencastle School Corporation Superintendent Bob Green said he had issues with transportation funding, and said in order for the district not to lose money, the program would have to last fewer than 36 weeks.
"I hate to split nickels, but around this table we know what we're facing," Green said.
Board vice president Kelly Lewis said he could not really see how the plan would benefit the school district in a time when it is experiencing budget cuts.
"I have a hard time spending corporation's money on students who have left it. We're still paying for it as taxpayer," he said.
Corn said spending the money best interest of helping students.
"If we can help one student reach his diploma, that's our goal," Corn said. "Everyone who doesn't get diploma is a failure for us."
He estimated last year between eight and 10 students dropped out of the high school, and the program could save as many from dropping out by the end of the 2010-11 school year.
"Students who don't get high school diplomas are financial burdens to our communities. They are our first concern," Corn said.
In other news, the board also approved a year-long long-term GRASP program, which may become available in a situation where a student, the school or the courts may or could have another option rather than expulsion.
The long-term program would operate the same as the current GRASP program but will be for the remainder of the student's recommended expulsion period. It must be recommended by the school/hearing officer, approved by the courts system and agreed with by the parents or guardians.
The board also approved the district's crisis plans with no changes, a $1,000 donation from Wal-Mart to provide the TZ Garden Club and 31 personnel items.