The Astoria School District is moving forward with plans to create an alternative education high school, using two classrooms and the library at Capt. Robert Gray Elementary.

Details of the project were announced at Thursday's meeting of Astoria School Board. The school would hold its first session for roughly 30 students in October, and would consolidate many resources and personnel that are currently spread throughout Astoria. Any student in the county could attend the school.

Even though the idea has only recently been seriously considered, Superintendent Craig Hoppes said he's confident the plans will become reality.

"This is going to happen," Hoppes said after Thursday night's school board work session. He added that the long discussion and decision-making process about restructuring schools had prevented serious consideration of the matter by the board. "This has been needed in the county for a long time."

Earlier in the meeting, Larry Lockett, principal of Astoria High School, presented a packet of information spelling out how the school would be organized and who might go there.

"This option provides an opportunity for everyone on a different pathway," Lockett said. Currently, the district pays Clatsop Community College to teach students within the age group working toward their GED. Those students and instructors would move to the new school. Lockett estimated there are about 90 students in the county needing this type of education.

Many of the students would be taught online at the new school, and classrooms would house students working at computers on different subjects while being advised by a single teacher, Lockett said. The schedule would hold more flexibility, he said, and would be tailored to meet students' individual needs.

On-site childcare for the students is also part of the plan, and in the future might be available to the public. Hoppes said he's looking for someone to lease the space and run their own childcare business in it.

The city of Astoria has been offered the first floor of Gray Elementary to relocate its offices from June to January or February 2010 while City Hall undergoes a complete interior renovation. Other takers for the classrooms might include Clatsop Community College. Hoppes said a public meeting will likely take place to gauge interest in remaining space.

Staffing for the new school would be minimal, likely made up of current teachers or district employees, Hoppes said. Start-up costs would be covered by $150,000 in funding from the Northwest Regional Education Service District's county discretionary fund.

If the school isn't self-supporting and sustainable for the long term, Hoppes said they'd shut it down.

"It will fund itself and more," he said.


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