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New Alternative High School Opens
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New Alternative High School Opens

New Program Will Provide Online Learning and Small Group Experience in Kalamazoo Public Schools

Kalamazoo Public Schools high school students will have another alternative program this fall.

The Kalamazoo Innovative Learning Program (KILP) is a new, free, alternative high school that will offer smaller class sizes with flexible scheduling and a significant online learning component. Its target are those students who need to focus on credit recovery. The program will launch with about 60 students in the South Westnedge School.

“It is another option at the secondary level for young people to succeed,” said KPS Superintendent Dr. Michael F. Rice. “While we have raised graduation rates over the last several years, we continue to have room for improvement.”

Johnny Edwards, director of secondary education, said students will be recommended by high school counselors, may self select the program in some cases, and could include students who have dropped out but who want to earn their high school diploma.

The new effort will be run by the Ombudsman Program, a national educational institution that specializes in alternative learning environments. It has been in existence since 1975 and operates in 20 states. The Kalamazoo Innovative Learning Program will supplement the district’s current high schools: Kalamazoo Central, Loy Norrix and Phoenix.

“Ombudsman has worked successfully with students and districts across the country to help young people who have struggled with life circumstances and, in some cases, with school itself, to become more successful in school and to graduate,” Rice said.

Edwards said the new program will include:

* A flexible schedule, with a morning session running 7:30 a.m.-12:23 p.m. and an afternoon session running 11:30 a.m.-4:23 p.m.

* Student interaction with a classroom teacher, who guides students through the online curriculum. The teacher’s main role is that of facilitator, to help the students work through the online instruction at a student-directed pace.

* A focus on the Michigan Merit Curriculum that emphasizes completion of academic core classes in math, English, science, social studies and world languages.

* Small class sizes. Thirty students in the morning and 30 in the afternoon session will be divided between two teachers.

* Socio-emotional and career development guidance to help students learn social skills for post-secondary education and career goals.

“This is even less traditional than Phoenix,” Edwards said. “KILP will have smaller classes with a smaller student-to-adult ratio. In addition, there will be tutors and other support staff to help with the career and socio-emotional components.”

Graduates of the Kalamazoo Innovative Learning Program will be Promise eligible, he said.
The Board of Education approved the program in June. KILP will initially run as a pilot program.

Current students may contact their high school counselor for more information. The Kalamazoo Innovative Learning Program office can be reached at 269-548-0190, after Aug. 29.

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