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District 518 committee considers MLAP options

WORTHINGTON -- Classes are still in session for students at District 518, but members of the school board instructional committee are carefully working toward the 2011-2012 school year as they addressed various educational opportunities at Monday morning's meeting.

One subject of discussion was the Area Learning Center's Middle Level Alternative Program (MLAP), which currently serves students at both the ALC building and Worthington Middle School. Four students are presently enrolled in the ALC but are located at WMS, and three students of middle school age are at the ALC.

The current system places students ranging from middle school age to age 21 in the same academic setting. This has raised an issue of concern and an obstacle for teachers attempting to simultaneously teach the same course subject to a wide spectrum of grade levels.

Consequently, ALC assistant principal Nate Hanson has proposed students in the MLAP be housed at the ALC, where they would be separate from ninth- through 12th-grade students and have a different schedule from upper-level students.

"We feel that the most successful environment would be where those students are in the same building," Hanson said of having all MLAP students in one building.

"I've seen that as a big obstacle," he added of the current situation. "We're hopefully working towards a way to establish more cohesiveness."

Students enrolled in the MLAP program are either struggling academically or behaviorally. The MLAP would be a mandatory program for students meeting the necessary criteria, and administrators have suggested a systematic process be established for enrolling students in the program.

Students in MLAP would have the opportunity to be taught middle school curriculum, team building exercises and a physical education course, but the students would not have the option of enrolling in other elective courses similarly offered to students at WMS.

Superintendent John Landgaard noted that the MLAP program would essentially address issues such as student retention or social promotion.

"This (proposal) is trying to close the achievement gap and get them (students) back on track academically," Landgaard explained. "They won't have some of those electives, but we want them to do well in their core subjects so then they can experience those electives."

In other business, the committee Monday:

* Discussed the Worthington ALC Trojan Learning Academy, which would provide students with an individualized, online learning option.

* Discussed Community Education staffing recommendations for the 2011-2012 school year. Due to a decrease in federal funding for the Even-Start family literacy program, an estimated reduction of $110,000 in various areas has been proposed.

* Discussed staffing recommendations for the 2011-2012 school year, which includes an additional EL (English Learner) instructor at Prairie Elementary, an additional interventionist at WMS and an increase of 2.39 FTE (full-time equivalent) at WHS. Staffing recommendations are based on each school's projected enrollment for next school year and the particular needs of the schools. All staffing recommendations are subject to change.

* Reviewed a preliminary calendar for the 2011-2012 school year

Items discussed at Monday's instructional committee will be presented for the school board's approval its April 19 meeting.