Community forum on Great Bend school to be held Thursday

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CARTHAGE — At its Monday night meeting, the Carthage Central School District Board of Education agreed to host a community forum at 6 p.m. Thursday.

The forum will be held to gauge the community’s interest in preserving the district’s Great Bend location, which houses its business office and alternative education program. The district is at a crossroads on the fate of the former elementary school due to the level of work it’s estimated to need.

Representatives from Watchdog Building Partners told the board on Jan. 8 that the repair costs could reach $5 million, using a $200-per-square-foot “ballpark” estimate.

The sticking point of the issue remained what would become of the alternative education program in Great Bend, which currently serves 17 high school students.

High school principal Joseph S. Sedita gave a presentation to the board Monday detailing the program’s success rate. The program typically serves between 20 and 40 students with alternating morning and afternoon schedules to accommodate different class sections.

Mr. Sedita said the program was started in 2008 to help students who lacked Regents credentials earn their GEDs. Local and Regents diplomas were offered starting in 2010.

Since 2010, 286 students had participated in the Great Bend program; 46 earned Regents diplomas, 10 earned local diplomas, and 33 earned GEDs. Students who may not score a 65 on all their Regents tests — but do score at least 45 — can earn local diplomas.

A total of 49 other students who entered Great Bend either remained in the program for at least two years, or were reintegrated back into Carthage High School.

Forty-eight students had transferred to other schools, and 100 of the 286 had dropped out, though dropout rates had declined since the 2010-11 school year.

“When they get to Great Bend, they see they can succeed,” Mr. Sedita said during his presentation. He said he felt that the program’s success in awarding credit-deficient students with Regents diplomas was what separated from other alternative education forms.

Later, he said that “two of the main schools of thought” on the future of Great Bend were related to the program’s staff-sharing potential if it were to be moved onto the main campus, versus maintaining its partially online model more easily by keeping it off the main campus.

Mr. Sedita said that generally Great Bend students “may just have a tough time acclimating to a school with over 900 students,” and succeed in an environment “with less distractions.”

Thursday’s community forum will be held at the building, 25059 Woolworth St.

There will be a tour of the building from 6 to 7 p.m. and the discussion will follow.

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