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Ticonderoga looks to start alternative ed program

State approval needed

The Ticonderoga Central School District is asking the state education department for permission to establish an alternative high school program.

The program, which would be held away from Ti High School, would be for students struggling to meet new state graduation requirements.

“We have kids who have had a hard time adjusting to the new state requirements,” said John McDonald, Ticonderoga school superintendent. “They’re getting frustrated and are having difficulties. It’s affecting our drop out rate.”

Ticonderoga’s graduation rate was 86 percent in 2011. That’s up from 82 percent in 2010 and 79 percent in 2009. Graduation rates are determined by the number of students in a freshman class who graduate four years later.

Statewide the high school graduation rate was 73.4 percent in 2010, according to the state education department. Statistics for 2011 are not yet available.

The alternative education program, which needs state approval, would allow struggling students to develop job skills by substituting internships and work study for some academic classes.

“We’re seeing kids hit a wall,” McDonald said. “This is a way to a high school diploma through modified graduation requirements that meets the needs of some students.”

Mike Graney, Ti High principal, stressed the goal will still remain the same — that every student graduate with a Regents diploma.

“Sometimes you just can’t fit a round peg into a square hole,” Graney said. “This will be another way to help these students experience success.”

If approved by the state, the program will begin this fall and serve about 15 students.

McDonald stressed the program will have no additional costs to Ti taxpayers since the space will be donated and classes will be taught by existing staff.

“In fact, it will probably save us money,” McDonald said. “Because of their frustration these students often become discipline problems. Then we have to tutor them and provide other services outside school. That costs us money. If we can keep them in school we save money.”

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