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Program Works To Boost PCSSD Attendance

New program at PCSSD gives students another opportunity before they're enrolled in a separate alternative school.
PULASKI COUNTY, AR -- There's a new program focused on boosting attendance in the Pulaski County Special School District.

PCSSD uses a tier system.

Tier One is just the general classroom.

Before this year, when students experienced problems at school, they went to what's now Tier Three.

That's an alternative school, at a separate location.

But administrators just added Tier Two which helps keep students, who want to learn, at their home school, even if they're dealing with learning and discipline issues.

It's a way to help prevent more kids from dropping out.

Jacksonville High School Principal Bill Barnes said, "Some of them had problems all the way through school and this is one place they can come. It's not as strict on them because if we were, then they would be out."

At the Alternative Learning Classroom, students are with the same teacher instead of switching for different subjects.

The classes are smaller, so there's more one on one attention and students aren't sent off to the principal's office for misbehaving.

Barnes said, "They have a room for them to go to cool off. They have people to talk to them to try and calm them down."

Director of Secondary Education John Tackett says improvements still need to be made.

But he says the program's been pretty successful so far.

Case in point...the district started the year with six alternative high school classroom sites and they've already added five more in some middle schools.

Tackett said, "I think what we'll find out, over time, is the students who had attendance problems are actually wanting to come to school."

The Tier Three Alternative School is still used, for students who aren't successful in Tier Two or who may not make good candidates for that program.

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