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Peoria Public Schools offers updates on alternative education options, congratulates graduates

220523 Peoria Public Schools Board Screenshot.png
Peoria Public Schools District 150
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YouTube

As the 2021-2022 school year comes to a close, Peoria Public Schools highlighted three alternative education programs within the District at Monday night’s Board of Education meeting.

ELITE Youth Outreach Supervisor Carl Cannon addressed the Board regarding his Game Changers program, one which has sparked disagreements amongst attendees at past meetings. Touting improvements in student behavior, Cannon reported a “95% drop in major referrals” and a “96% drop in minor referrals” among students in the program.

“The problem we have sometimes is they don’t want to go [back to their home schools], but they have to,” said Cannon. “They have to understand that normal is their normal neighborhood school, so we go with them.”

Michelle Meinders, Special Education Coordinator and leader of the Day Treatment program housed at Trewyn School, also shared updates about her program to the Board. Meinders describes Day Treatment as a highly structured educational setting for students with specialized education plans. Currently, the program serves 55 total students with the goal of getting students back into their traditional classrooms.

“I would love to see it expand, but also…keep the numbers low, make sure we have enough of the staff. It’s huge that I am fully staffed for two years in a row,” said Meinders. “It’s just all hands on deck from the moment our children get off the bus until they leave.”

Lastly, Special Education Coordinator Bridget Carstensen shared plans for a new alternative schooling option called the RISE Program. RISE is an evolution of the ChanceLight program which arrived in the District in late 2021. According to Carstensen, this iteration will serve kindergarten to 4th grade students in need of the most intense social-emotional learning support available.

“It is imperative that we are providing services to our students, but that we are also having these connections with our families,” said Carstensen. “Our goal is to work with students, work with families, work within our community and make sure that we are providing the best that we can to our students so that they can gain the skills they need to be successful back in a more traditional school setting.”

Also at Monday night’s meeting, Superintendent Dr. Sharon Kherat extended congratulations to the over 800 high school graduates across District 150. Kherat calls on their experiences throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as a testament of their resilience.

“We’ve all went [sic] through enormous obstacles during the past four years, and yet, those children have emerged even stronger than ever,” said Kherat. “We wish them a lot of success, and we know they will be successful because the pandemic just made them much, much stronger.”

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Mike Rundle is a correspondent at WCBU. He joined the station in 2020.