ALC is a big step forward

By Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

The New Prague Area Schools is sending a letter this week to the Minnesota Department of Education stating its intent to open an Alternative Learning Center (ALC) in the district.

The move is necessary, school officials say, because the Carver-Scott Co-op is closing the ALC it operates in Lydia and another one in Chaska. Shakopee and Waconia are also considering a similar move.

The letter does not commit the district to following through on the ALC, but it does give the district the option to do so, if it is feasible. The letter needs to go out now, since it takes nearly six months to get approval.

Lonnie Seifert, assistant principal at New Prague High School, said he estimated that there are about 18 current NPHS students who would benefit from having an ALC alternative in the district, and that does not include students currently attending an ALC outside the district. He said 30 students would be ideal to start such a program, and that students from smaller districts in the area would likely find their way here.

When the former intermediate school building was converted to the Central Education Campus, this was the type of program that was envisioned. The building would provide ample space for the program and be a good use of district resources. In addition, it will keep New Prague students - and their state funding - in the local schools and at the same time attract other students here... a win-win scenario.

Seifert and Special Services Director Tony Buthe will be briefing the school board at a future meeting about the planning and funding for an ALC before the board makes any commitment to the concept. Good planning and preparation for such a program will strengthen the district and help it better serve all its students.

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