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Alternative school plan goes to board

Superintendent Pete Kelly this morning will ask the School Board to approve spending $181,000 to open an alternative school this fall on a school-owned site in Inverness.

The controversial plan is likely to bring out residents of a nearby neighborhood who are worried about their security and the aesthetics of portable classrooms on a vacant site to educate the county's disinterested and disruptive students.

The district is considering two sites. Kelly said Monday he is leaning toward the site farthest from the neighborhood, at the corner of Montgomery Lane and Highland Boulevard directly behind the school system's District Services Center.

The other site under consideration is on South Boulevard near Withlacoochee Technical Institute.

That plan is one of several key issues the board will consider at a special meeting at 9:30 a.m. The board also will be asked to consider approving draft studies analyzing the structure of the school administration and the staffing of the district's schools.

The alternative school proposal, which is referred to in the district paperwork as the "round up the portables" plan, is an idea that came up just a few weeks ago.

It caught some who have discussed alternative proposals for years by surprise. The district's three high schools and four middle schools offer alternative programs in portable classrooms and other spaces on their campuses.

By pulling the portables together onto one site, school officials hope to offer a better program.

Details comparing the proposal with what is currently offered were delivered to board members late last week. The current alternative programs include seven teachers, but the proposal would include eight teachers _ one of whom would be a specialist in dealing with exceptional students _ and a part-time person working as a teen parent-teacher.

Seven teacher aides now work in the program, and the plan calls for only two aides, three other full-time support people and a half-time person working as a job developer.

The plan also calls for adding a principal and an assistant principal/curriculum specialist.

The facility would share staff from other schools and the district office, including a guidance counselor, a social worker, an attendance assistant and a school resource officer.

Enrollment at the school is set at an estimated 126 to 159 students.

The other issues the board will consider today concern staffing.

The Florida Association of District School Superintendents recently completed draft staffing and management proposals that the board will consider.

Kelly already has asked the schools to cut as many as 45 positions for the coming year, and the draft staffing plan has provided a guideline for some of those decisions. Kelly has said before that he doesn't expect many, if any, layoffs because of that proposal. Instead, he expects transfers and attrition to absorb the impact.

The management plan outlines proposed changes in the alignment of various jobs at the school district office.

The district has one assistant superintendent, two executive directors, several directors and coordinators heading up the county office operation. Under the draft proposal, the district would keep one assistant superintendent but would add two more executive directors _ one for support services and one for business services.

The director of general services, who currently reports to the superintendent directly, would have the title changed to director of facilities and construction and would report to the support services executive director.

The planning director title would change to director of organizational planning and compliance. Other title and duty changes also are recommended in the proposal.

Kelly said Monday he is waiting for the board's comments at today's meeting to decide who to recommend to fill the positions. He would not comment on specific administrators and where they might end up in the new structure.

By law, the school district must notify any teacher or administrator who will not be appointed for the coming year by April 1.