The Clear Lake School Board will meet in special session tonight (Wednesday, Dec. 5) for the first in a series of meetings concerning relocation of the Lakeside Alternative (School) Program to the former Sunset Elementary School building in Clear Lake.
Last month the School Board discussed using Sunset School to house the alternative program they share with the Garner-Hayfield and Ventura School Districts. Currently, students enrolled in the program are served at the Ventura/G-H Middle School, formerly known as Ventura High School.
Lakeside currently has 13 seats; seven seats purchased by the Clear Lake district and six from G-H/V. The shared alternative program has been a part of G-H, Ventura and Clear Lake for over 10 years, according to Tyler Williams, G-H/V superintendent of schools.
“The idea of moving the alternative program to the Sunset building is purely to provide more space for our program,” said Williams. “The Ventura setting has been fabulous and the program has been highly successful, graduating many students each year. However, the opportunity for a larger space and growth potential is something to consider.”
Aside from the new location, little would change for the program. Instructors and curriculum would remain in place, he added. Lorene Dykstra is the coordinator and teacher of the Lakeside Alternative Program.
Clear Lake School Board President Mark Tesar, Board member Deb Betz and Superintendent Anita Micich met with Williams and two members from each of the G-H and Ventura boards Monday night. Following Wednesday’s meeting, the Ventura and G-H School Boards are expected to include the relocation issue on their upcoming regular meeting agendas.
At tonight’s meeting the group is expected to convey the general approval for the plan held by G-H/V leaders and further discuss the future of the Sunset building.
“The sustainability of the Sunset building is something that needs to be worked out,” added Williams. “Should the program change location, it would be important to know the Sunset building would be a part of the program in future years.”
The Clear Lake School Board has identified Sunset School as a potential site for a New Tech Network Model regional academy which the district has been studying. Both Mason City and Clear Lake have shown an interest in establishing an academy, where students use technology to collaboratively solve problems, promoting critical thinking skills. Local School Board members say in the event Clear Lake proceeds with New Tech, space is available for both programs.
“A few years ago, the North Iowa Superintendents and Board members met for the expressed purpose of collectively and collaboratively thinking about how we could provide more opportunities for North Iowa students. This conversation we are having has that potential. This demonstrates collaboration and a collective responsibility for the students of North Iowa and, of course, especially in our three districts,” said Micich.
If the process moves forward, the alternative school program could be relocated as soon as January 2013.