• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Alternative education revamping plan given

A restructuring of the alternative education program in Woodford County schools will offer three nontraditional learning environments - Safe Harbor Academy, Woodford Night School and an online Woodford Academy Virtual Education (WAVE) - for students beginning next school year. The night school program would be an option for students with co-op needs, teen parents and teen providers, who are not successful in the district's existing alternative school setting: Safe Harbor Academy. "We have a lot of kids that we are serving. We also have a lot of needs that we are not able to capture," said Safe Harbor Academy Principal Logan Culbertson when asked to explain the rationale behind restructuring alternative education in Woodford County schools. Culbertson said a lot of students have an interest in co-op, which provides a structured job experience, and online learning. "We'd like to provide something a little bit different. Something that has the structure and culture needed for those kids, but also something that has some flexibility, that has some choice options as well," added Culbertson, who presented the restructuring plan to the Woodford County Board of Education on April 12. Culbertson, other administrators and educators from Woodford County schools visited 13 different alternative school programs across Kentucky before coming up with a plan to restructure alternative learning here, he said. The opportunity to restructure the alternative education program in Woodford County schools arose with the pending departure of students placed at the Methodist Home, which will move its operations from Versailles to Nicholasville before next school year. Students from the Methodist Home have accounted for about half of the student population at Safe Harbor Academy, schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins pointed out. "We still plan to have a capacity of around 35 (students at Safe Harbor Academy), with a mix of application- and placement-based (students)," said Culbertson. Chief Academic Officer Jimmy Brehm said a restructuring of the alternative school program was needed so students have more than two avenues - Woodford County High School or Safe Harbor Academy - to pursue academic success. With the ever-increasing needs of students, having additional options to meet a student's individual needs "will be very helpful," Director of Staff/Student Services Garet Wells said. He said night school and online students in Kentucky earn "performance-based credits," which are determined by how many courses they complete. Besides hiring a coordinator to oversee the night school program, the cost to employ four limited-contract teachers for those classes would be about $6,000, according to information supplied to school board members. They also received an application that parents and their children will receive for Safe Harbor Academy, night school and WAVE.

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