Quaker Valley cuts ties with Alternative Center for Education

Bobby Cherry
| Monday, Dec. 10, 2012, 1:05 p.m.

Quaker Valley School District no longer will send students to the North Fayette-based Alternative Center for Education at Parkway West Career and Technology Center beginning next school year.

Board members approved the decision last week. Quaker Valley becomes at least the third local district to exit the program as Carlynton and Moon Area board members also voted last week to no longer send students there.

Increasing costs and a declining enrollment were reasons Superintendent Joseph Clapper cited for Quaker Valley administrators and board members to exit the program.

Tuition for the half-day program is more than $17,000 per student, Clapper said.

“It's not about the quality of the program,” Clapper said. “It is about the cost of the program.”

Since 2009-2010, enrollment at the Alternative Center for Education has declined from 78 students to 44 students, Quaker Valley spokeswoman Tina Vojtko said.

Officials with Parkway West Career and Technology Center did not return a request seeking comment.

Three of Quaker Valley's five students enrolled in the program will finish at the end of the school year, Clapper said.

Two other students will be relocated to different programs.

“All of the services that are being provided there will be available to the students through many other alternative services,” board member Kay Wijekumar said.

In addition to five students at Parkway's Alternative Center for Education program, six Quaker Valley students attend the Project Succeed evening program offered through Keystone Oaks School District at a cost of $2,000 per student, Vojtko said.

Two students attend Community School West — an Allegheny Intermediate Unit program offering full- or part-time study — at $10,000 for basic education and $13,000 for special education, Vojtko said.

“Clearly not all alternative schools are the same — nor should they be,” Vojtko said. “It's about finding the best fit for each student and his (or) her needs.”

Parkway West serves 12 area school districts, including Carlynton, Chartiers Valley, Cornell, Keystone Oaks, Montour, Moon, Mt. Lebanon, Quaker Valley, South Fayette, Sto-Rox, Upper St. Clair and West Allegheny.

Quaker Valley still will send students to the school's career and technology center.

Alternative education programs provide students with a combination of intense, individual academic instruction and behavior modification counseling, according to the state Department of Education. Alternative education programs designed for seriously and persistently disruptive students in grades 6-12.

Students may be referred to an alternative education program for use of a habitual truancy, use of a controlled substance, violent or threatening behavior, possession of a weapon, a criminal act or any other misconduct that would merit suspension or expulsion, according to the Department of Education.

Bobby Cherry is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-324-1408 or rcherry@tribweb.com.

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