By Denise Dick
Volney Rogers school will reopen next year as a choice program for third- through eighth-graders.
The West Side school, which closed this year as part of a restructuring plan, will offer the same courses as Discovery at Kirkmere, a new program that opened this school year in the former Kirkmere Elementary building, also on the West Side.
Doug Hiscox, deputy superintendent for academic affairs, said it’s part of the district’s effort to expand choices for students, something the state-appointed academic distress commission has directed.
“All seventh- and eighth-graders at Chaney and East will be able to select Discovery at Kirkmere, Discovery at Volney, Chaney VPA [visual performing arts], Chaney STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] or Rayen Early College,” Hiscox told the commission Thursday. “It’s choice for every student.”
Discovery at Kirkmere provides students with classes in engineering, Spanish, creative communications, art, dance, investigative science, band and choir as well as the core curriculum. The program is full this year, Hiscox said.
The reopening next year of Volney leaves P. Ross Berry, on the city’s East Side, as the only newer school building that won’t be in use by the district next year, said Adrienne O’Neill, commission chairwoman.
Volney and Berry were both closed this year, and the former Wilson Middle School was turned into Wilson Programs of Promise, an alternative program. All three of those schools were built as part of the 10-year, $187 million project to construct or renovate 13 school buildings completed in 2010, with the Ohio School Facilities Commission covering 80 percent of the costs.
University Project Learning Center, a school that had been housed at the former Mary Haddow School on the East Side, was closed. Those students were sent to other schools or programs including Programs of Promise. The district maintains some other older buildings that don’t house students.
In other business, the commission also instructed school district administration to immediately increase the number of in-school suspension opportunities for students in all grades and to change the district code of conduct and policy, which requires automatic student suspensions for some offenses.
Commission members for the past few months have been concerned about a high number of days missed by students because of suspensions. If a student isn’t in school, he or she can’t learn, they reason.
Automatic suspensions generally are triggered when a student commits an offense multiple times, officials said.
In-school suspensions are used at some schools, but there isn’t space at others to allow that option, school officials said.