PARENTS URGE BOARD TO KEEP ALTERNATIVE CLASS
June 19, 2001 11:00 pm

Parents' concerns about the recent cancellation of the MOST class, an alternative learning program at Azalea Middle School, added some emotion to the citizen input portion of Monday nights Brookings-Harbor School District meeting.

The class, which served about a dozen students at a time, was one of the programs eliminated to make room for changes in the districts special education department.

My son was in the MOST class that was recently cancelled, parent Becky Miller told the board. I cant stress how much it meant to our family.

The changes within the first month were amazing. The benefits (of the program) are so important, she said.

Cody is now going into the eighth grade, she said.

The board needs to realize the depth of what you are taking away, she said.

Miller, owner of Wild River Pizza, said she employs a MOST child whom she has watched change.

Hes now a hireable adult, she said.

When one child moved out of the MOST class, another moved in, Miller said.

She believes the program saves money by keeping children out of jail.

The students talked with real prisoners, she said.

Its important for them to know the ways they think need to change, she said.

Cody Miller said when he started the class he didnt like or enjoy it until about half way through, when things became so much better and I learned to use the assignment book.

It changed me and my whole family, he said. It changed my life.

Dana Jensens son Wayne, who will be a junior, also benefitted from the class, she said. He was enrolled in the program in the last part of his seventh grade year.

Wayne fell through the cracks, and wasnt helped by the school programs already in place, she said. Jensen said the same thing would continue to happen to other students with the cancellation of the alternative learning class.

When (Wayne) arrived in the MOST Program he could read only at the second grade level, she said.

Wayne didnt get what he needed until Joi Gleason, who taught the class, got involved, she said.

Without this program and without Joi Gleason and Wanda Hamm (the class aide), I fear to even think where my son would be now, she said.

He certainly would not be in mainstream school.

Today Wayne has a part-time job, plays on the BHHS varsity football team, keeps his grades passing and I am truly proud of him, she said.

He barely scrapes by and he tries hard, she said. The resources that he runs to are the resources you are cutting.

Please reconsider this program, she said.

Barb Campbell said the MOST class has been a gift to my son (Andrew), she said.

Campbell said Superintendent Dr. Paul Prevenas told her the program does not benefit enough children to be economically feasible.

Children in the entire student population benefit from the program, she said. When children are disruptive and falling behind it takes time away from the class, she said.

When children are frustrated and overwhelmed they act out,she said.

Campbell said, Andrew is sweet, charming, funny and very bright, but he hated school and spent time in detention and Saturday school.

Campbell choked up as she said she got calls from every teacher about his behavior and lack of turning in assignments. She tried several ways to change him from punishment to rewards for behaving, without success, she said.

Eight weeks ago he entered the MOST class, she said.

Its a pleasure to get a call from a teacher who says your son is doing great, she said.

Andrew made a lot of progress in a short period, she said.

Campbell had hoped he would be in the program next year, instead of returning to the same environment that failed him.

Its a tragedy for him and every child, she said.

Students in the class are the most difficult students that any teacher has to deal with, she said.

What kind of a price tag can you put on a childs education and their future? she said.

When students break the law and get into drugs, people ask why didnt somebody do something, she said.

Dont give up on these kids, and be aware what happens when kids give up on themselves, she said. Its important for the community in general.

Because of budget constraints and to make changes to the district's special education programs, other programs had to be eliminated, Prevenas said recently.

Azalea eliminated the MOST class, Kalmiopsis Elementary School eliminated a fourth grade class and Brookings-Harbor High School gave up its fulltime school-to-work coordinator.

The curriculum directors position was eliminated to make room for the new director of special education and student services.

Added were two speech and language teachers and a second part-time resource room teacher for disabled students.

The board listened to the parents concerns but could not act because the issue was not listed on the agenda for Mondays meeting.