New image sought for alternative education

Alternative education may get an alternative name in School District 51.

Ron Roybal, director of alternative education, said “alternative” can conjure less-than-desirable images in some people’s minds. He will begin hosting focus groups today with members of the community, government and the district staff to see what other terms could be used to describe nontraditional pathways to graduation.

Roybal said he also is looking for new ways to get the word out about alternative-education programs offered by the district.

Roybal and the leaders of the programs — R-5 High School, Valley West School, The Opportunity Center and the Mesa Valley Vision Home and Community Program — discussed the growth in alternative schools Tuesday during the District 51 school board meeting.

Valley West Principal Brenda Witte said the school had its largest graduating class this year with 19 students, two of whom received full-ride scholarships to college.

Tami Houston, principal of The Opportunity Center, which is offered in partnership with the Mesa County Department of Human Services, Hilltop and Colorado West Mental Health Center, said the center served about 120 kids this year. Houston said instructors at the school make an effort to reach out to students so they have a greater desire to attend school and do well.

“Building relationships is key to success,” Houston said.

Susan Scofield, liaison with the Vision program, which is a home school support program, said six of this year’s seven graduates earned scholarships for college. Scofield said the school has seen an increased interest from private-school students wishing to switch to home-schooling, something Scofield attributes to the economy, because the Vision program doesn’t charge for participation.


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