Regional task force to tackle transitioning studentsBy Cristina Kumka
STAFF WRITER | December 10,2012The Rutland South Supervisory Union received a grant of more than $100,000 to help students who drop out, or in some way fall through the cracks.
The union commissioned a regional summit Friday to investigate community services available to those kids and what better role schools can take to prevent the loss of students.
Rutland South Superintendent Dana Cole-Levesque introduced the day-long conference at Rutland’s Howe Center by talking about the Transitions Initiative, which started in 2011.
He said the initiative may expose that schools aren’t doing enough, or can’t do more, to help kids who struggle economically and personally to stay in school.
The district has a three-year, $109,000 grant from the James T. Bowse Community Health Trust to explore the issue.
In attendance at the conference were representatives from Rutland city school leaders, the Regional Workforce Investment Board, Rutland Mental Health, Three Steps Forward, Vermont Adult Learning and a dozen more Rutland County colleges and health services providers.
“We want to focus supports for these kids,” Cole-Levesque said. “We want to enhance these community and school connections.”
He said some of the local community organizations are serving students age 15 or 16 who have dropped out of high school for any number of reasons.
Cole-Levesque believes that shouldn’t happen and more services are needed to keep those kids learning in order to better their futures.
Community-based program Eckerd Child and Family Services said it needs to help more foster kids over the age of 18 because they are eligible for services up until age 22.
That organization’s challenge is to keep foster adults interested in mentoring foster youth.
West Rutland High School doesn’t have a formal transitions program and teachers are charged with gathering information on kids at risk.
Ginger Gellman from Community College of Vermont said her school is struggling to make prospective students feel like college is worth the wait and the cost, compared to getting right into the work force to support themselves. CCV is looking to expand its “Introduction to College Studies” offering it to lower high school grades, namely sophomores, to better educate students as to the benefits of post-secondary education.
Otter Valley High School can’t find apprenticeships for its students.
Other organizations said they had good relationships with Rutland Mental Health.
Others said they served kids with mental or behavioral problems that couldn’t have been solved in a traditional classroom setting.
A second transitions summit will be held in March and a task force will be formed.
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