Students and staff at the old alternative school building packed boxes a few days before the holiday break and almost everything was ready for them to move into the new building this week.
"We're still working out the bugs and trying to get settled. Temporary front doors are in place but the permanent doors should come in sometime this week. Computers are ordered but not in. Hardware and the telephone system still need to be installed. I still need to order some file cabinets and other furniture," Maryann Reed, director of student and community programs, said.
The new alternative school is on the North Clay Middle School/Northview High School campus. Visitors are greeted in the reception area and adjacent are the commons area, kitchen and separate male and female restrooms. A conference room and offices for the principal, secretary and behavioral counselor are to the right. Reed has the principal's office although that is not her official title.
"Since the school is really a satellite of Clay Community Schools and not a school in and of itself, it does not require an official building principal. I will supervise the program and handle my other responsibilities from an office there," Reed said.
She is also director of adult education and Title One, expulsion examiner and textbooks coordinator. Linda Webster is her secretary. Andrea Harrison is the therapeutic counselor.
The adult secondary credits room is next down the hall. Students can earn up to eight credits toward their high school diploma. Amanda Sebastian teaches the classes in the afternoon and evenings Monday through Thursday. Afternoon classes may have around eight students but as many as 25 students are in her evening classroom.
The four core subjects are taught the first half of the day in classrooms set up for about 10 students. Mark Rambis teaches social studies and Jennie Menser teaches science. Clay Community School Board of Trustees hired a new math teacher at the last school board meeting. The new teacher will also tackle physical education duties by taking the students across campus to the North Clay Middle School gymnasium.
Those three teachers will divide English students. Rambis teaches juniors and seniors, Menser teaches freshmen and sophomores and Renn teaches middle school students. Reed looks for an English teacher to come on board as student numbers increase. Other classes, such as art, will also be added eventually.
The building's capacity is 60 and 21 students are currently enrolled.
"We can go up to around 30 to 33 students before we stop taking referrals until we have more staff," Reed said.
Elective courses and rotating study halls are available during the second half of the day. Students may choose from a variety of electives or attend an additional class of core subject if they need to make up more credit in that area.
Completing the circle around the building is a utility room, staff restroom, staff work room and outside school suspension room.
It will be next August before the outside school suspension room is available. There is space for up to eight students and an instructional assistant will need to be hired by August to supervise those students. Parents and students will have the opportunity to enroll in this program during the suspension and will be allowed to earn class credits instead of losing them, as is currently the practice.
Reed meets with her staff and representatives from North Clay Middle School, Northview High School and Clay City Jr./Sr. High monthly to review referrals and to establish a common vision and purpose for the alternative school.
"Forest Avenue Academy was an appropriate name when we were in the old building but it just doesn't fit anymore. The staff has been thinking of different names. We'd like to incorporate 'Clay County' into the name since the facility serves the entire county. We don't necessarily want 'alternative' to be in the name. Andrea is leaning toward something with 'opportunity' in it," Reed said.
A new name will eventually be chosen by school board members.