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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Alternative school's future in question

Tuesday, February 8, 2005

With CAPE Grant funds running out, there are concerns about educational programs for the 35 students in grades 7 through 12 continuing at Cumberland Academy.

The alternative education program has operated as a "school within a school" for 10 years in an attempt to lower the student drop out rate in Clay County.

"It is not just a place for little outlaws with behavior problems," said William Schad, Clay Community School Superintendent.

There are various reasons for a student's placement at Cumberland Academy.

"We reach those students who, for whatever the reasons, would have already dropped out of school," Cumberland Academy Principal and Clay Community Schools At Risk Coordinator Lisa Showalter said, explaining the importance of the programs. "Using a non-traditional environment helps these students stay in school."

Employment obligations, health problems, poor social skills, low academic achievements and pregnancy are only a few of the other reasons some students attend Cumberland Academy.

Students who fall behind during the school year can often get caught up with the help of the teaching staff at Cumberland.

Referred by the attending school for placement, all students are considered for enrollment. The only exception to the rule are students who have previously been at Cumberland Academy and have not had success.

Students remain part of the enrollment of their "home" school while attending classes in four core areas of English, Math, Science and Social Studies. The main purpose of the curriculum is to return the student back to the general school population or graduation.

The Cumberland Academy program is working so well that other counties now applying for CAPE funding are seeking out the details to guide their own programs.

But with the CAPE Grant ending in November of 2005, Clay County is now scrambling to find funding.

"It is extremely important that we reach these students," Showalter said, explaining that Clay Community School Corporation is actively seeking funding for this program all the time. "We are applying for additional Lilly Endowment funding now."

Until the funding can be found there are other options available to administrators.

"We are planning to down size programing enough that will allow the LEAAP Center and Cumberland Academy to continue providing for these students the services needed for them to graduate," Schad said. "With funding we hope to even further the programs available in the future."

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