Over 60 parents, along with students from grades 3 through 11, and Choice Program staff members were present at a recent meeting with Deputy Superintendent Janel Keating, Director of Human Resources, Keith Banks, White River Alternative Program principal, Elaine Elliott, and Foothills Elementary principal, Mr. Mark Cushman. All were there to hear news of what the future would bring for the Choice Program, a popular Parent Partnership program that has served families from White River, Enumclaw, Sumner and Orting since 1997.
Energy and interest was high in the room, as Ms. Keating announced that the program will remain a viable alternative for families, even as the White River Alternative Program three-district cooperative agreement will be dissolved. Although the three districts will no longer sign an interlocal agreement for the alternative school, Ms. Keating assured parents and students that the program would not only continue, but it is hoped that the program will continue to grow.
In an effort to make budget reductions, and increase efficiency, the Choice program will move to the Foothills Elementary campus beginning in the fall of 2012. This news sparked questions regarding the autonomy of the program, the individualized learning opportunities, parent involvement and the relaxed family–oriented atmosphere that has made the program so popular. Parents also voiced concerns regarding staffing. Although individual teaching staff were not named, Keating assured the audience that the academic rigor would remain the same with hands-on science, math, history and English. The only significant change in the program will be the location.
Foothills principal, Mark Cushman, has visited with Choice students, sharing his enthusiasm for the program. The premise of the program, and others like it around the State, relies on a close partnership between parents and teaching staff. Students attend academic classes at least two days per week, with the remaining time spent at home with parents as the educational leader. The emphasis of this program is for students to develop academic skills at high levels, become independent learners, and to have the opportunity to excel in areas of individual interest, with support from parents and teachers. This program offers a casual atmosphere where students are encouraged to work independently; however, there are many opportunities for students to experience group work in the core curriculum classes as well as social interactions in offerings such as ballroom dance, art, hands-on science, and others.
Choice has open enrollment throughout the school year, and is currently taking applications for 2012-13. For more information regarding the Choice Parent Partnership Program, contact Cynthia Osborn at 360 829-5810, or plan to attend one of our evening informational meetings on Tuesday, March 27, 2012, at 7:00 p.m., or Thursday, April 26, 2012, at 7:00p.m. Meetings will be held in the Choice Lab on the White River Alternative Programs campus (27515 120th St. E., Buckley, Washington).
White River Alternative Programs/Choice