PCS considering an alternative education program

Pelham City Schools administrators Trish Bogdanchik and Dr. John Prestridge presented a plan for an alternative education program during an Oct. 27 Board of Education meeting. (Contributed)

Pelham City Schools administrators Trish Bogdanchik and Dr. John Prestridge presented a plan for an alternative education program during an Oct. 27 Board of Education meeting. (Contributed)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—The Pelham City School System is exploring options for an alternative school program for students who have been removed from the traditional classroom setting for disciplinary reasons.

Riverchase Middle School Assistant Principal Trish Bogdanchik and Pelham High School Assistant Principal Dr. John Prestridge presented a plan for a night school during an Oct. 27 Board of Education meeting.

The night school would require two teachers, one for middle school students and one for high school students, and take place Monday through Thursday at the high school from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., Prestridge explained.

“(This will) allow us to provide an alternative setting to our students… and nontraditional students down the road,” Prestridge said.

Students in the night school program will keep up with schoolwork through a computer-based program the school system already uses to help students with credit recovery, PCS Curriculum Coordinator Dr. Elisabeth Davis said.

The night school program will educate students in an alternative setting on a long-term basis, with a minimum of 45-day enrollment, Prestridge explained.

“Short term placement never works, it’s not effective,” Bogdanchik said.

Bogdanchik and Prestridge suggested starting the night school program as an alternative option for students unable to attend classes for disciplinary reasons with the goal of expanding the program to include “nontraditional” students who cannot attend school during regular hours for extenuating circumstances.

“We can build a really effective program by just focusing on a few things,” Bogdanchik said, explaining the night school program will enforce strict behavioral and high academic expectations.

Bogdanchik also noted the importance of a small student to teacher ratio, allowing teachers to build a mentoring relationship with the night school students.

“It gives us a chance as teachers to be innovative,” Bogdanchik said. “A 10-to-one (student to teacher) ratio is what’s most effective.”

Pelham Mayor Gary Waters expressed support for the alternative school program and PCS Superintendent Dr. Scott Coefield suggested running numbers to determine costs and staffing needs in order to bring up the program at the next BOE meeting.

“To me it’s really important,” Bogdanchik said of the alternative school program. “A well educated society is a better society.”