For about 15 years, Salem and neighboring school districts have worked together to operate an alternative school.
The consortium originally began with five or six schools and Salem, Viola and Highland have all participated in recent years.
"After all these years, we have dissolved the alternative school. Highland is interested in buying a building over in its community and hosting an alternative school there, and it is really too far for us to drive and transfer students in a timely manner. We'll be bringing the alternative school to our campus," Salem School Superintendent Ken Rich announced, at the April 18 school board meeting.
An alternative school provides education for students with discipline and academic problems.
The North Central Alternative School which the three districts supported, is located on Highway 289 in Glencoe.
Rich proposed creating a Salem Alternative School in a room on the east side of the superintendent's building. The room will be divided, to create space for classes and for a computer lab.
Viola has been invited to assign up to three or four students to the school, which will have a maximum enrollment of 15 students.
Rich indicated the alternative school in Glencoe has worked well, but moving classes to the Salem campus will allow more flexibility.
Currently, a student assigned to the alternative school attends full time.
Once it is moved to the Salem campus, Rich envisions students dividing their time between the alternative school and standard classrooms.
If, for example, a student fails English 1 in the fall, he could begin English 2 in the spring, while repeating English 1 in the alternative classroom.
"We don't use our alternative school just as a disciplinary program," said Rich. "The majority of the time a student is in alternative school, they are behind somehow. They transfer from another school district and are behind in credits or, maybe, they failed a course and need to catch up."
Rich sees alternative school as a way to keep a student on course to graduate in four years, and mentioned that two alternative school students did catch up and graduate with their class last year.
At the end of the meeting, the board went into special session and one of their discussions resulted in a motion to hire Don Carithers, who is currently Director of the North Central Alternative School, to run the Salem school.
In other business, the board approved the rehiring of all classified (hourly) employees next year.
In addition, raises were approved for both classified and certified employees. The 1.8% raise is for this school year and next school year.
The raise will amount to $750 annually for teachers. The raises are the first since the 2007-2008 school year, although teachers and staff have received some bonuses.
The board also approved the school calendar for the 2011-2012 school year.
Under the calendar, the new school year will begin on August 15 and end on May 11.
The first five snow days next year will be made up at the end of the school year, May 14 to 18. The next five days will be taken from spring break, March 19 to 23.
Superintendent Rich told the board 130 new laws passed by the recent session of the state legislature deal with education, so it's going to take a while to figure out their impact on local districts.
One law makes a change many parents will notice next year.
The state currently sends school report cards to every parent. But, next year, the ratings, which show each school's progress toward meeting state standards, will be published on the Department of Education Web site. Ending printing and mailing of the results will save the state nearly one million dollars a year.
The May meeting of the Salem School Board will take place on May 16 at 7 p.m. at the Superintendent's office.