District To Expand Alternative Ed Opportunities; Will Close LCA
The Lakewood Board of Education has approved a plan for the District to move into a new era of alternative education programming that entails closing the existing Lakewood City Academy community charter school and opening its own program in the former Franklin Elementary School building.
Lakewood City Academy is sponsored by the District as a dropout prevention credit recovery school, which as such is subject to strict Ohio Department of Education regulations and requirements. Originally, this school model provided much of the flexibility needed to meet the educational needs of LCA students. Over the years, the model in the State of Ohio has become more cumbersome as it pertains to compliance procedures, which hindered the educational opportunities that LCA could offer to its students.
With LCA’s five-year sponsorship agreement with the District expiring on June 30 of this year, District administrators and the LCA Board of Directors determined that in order to provide more comprehensive, expansive and Lakewood-specific alternative programming, it is in the best interest of our students to not renew the sponsorship.
“This change will give the District a chance to dream, imagine and then have discussions about what we want to do in regards to alternative education programming” that wouldn’t be possible under the state compliance requirements for schools like LCA, said Superintendent Mike Barnes.
Administrators plan to spend the 2020-2021 school year gathering input from students, staff, parents and the community about what they think alternative education should look like in Lakewood. The new, as yet unnamed program would begin operating in the 2021-2020 school year. Until that time, current LCA students will continue next school year much as they are doing now curricularly but with some expanded opportunities still to be determined.
Some of the benefits of bringing the alternative education program under the District umbrella include the ability to share staff and other resources of the middle schools and high school and the ability to offer students in the program elective courses such as music, art and career-tech classes. These aspects are not possible under the restrictions of the current sponsorship agreement. Students will also graduate with a Lakewood High diploma.
Assistant Superintendent Maggie Niedzwiecki told the Board at its meeting on January 7 that while the transformation is in process, students and parents will see very little change. “We want this to be a seamless transition for everyone,” she said. LCA Coordinator Terri Elwell-Bornino will continue to lead the program.
Since LCA opened its doors in 2005, the school has seen 185 students graduate, something that might have been more difficult or impossible had they not had the option of an alternative education in their city. The District aims to continue that success story for those who find an alternative education setting their best fit.