District weighs alternatives to alternative ed

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Mount Pleasant Public Schools is weighing the idea of moving its alternative high school students to its traditional high school in a "school-within-a-school" scenario, according to the (Mount Pleasant) Morning Sun. Supporters of the district's Oasis Alternative High School want the school to remain separate, saying many students are successful there, but overall enrollment, graduation and attendance rates are low, the Morning Sun reported.

Oasis enrollment has dropped from more than 300 students to about 150, according to the Sun, mostly because once students realize they must complete the new Michigan Merit Curriculum — including two years of algebra and heavy doses of science and English — they decide not to attend school at all, the Morning Sun reported.

Principal Jeff Platte told the Morning Sun that daily attendance averages only 60 to 70 percent.

"The school hasn't made 'adequate yearly progress' in four years," Mount Pleasant Public Schools Superintendent Joe Pius told the Morning Sun.

Oasis supporters, however, said the school is successful with many nontraditional students, including those with previous behavioral, legal or academic problems who would otherwise drop out, the Morning Sun reported.

Pius told the Morning Sun that the district plans to appoint a committee to come up with solutions. Those solutions might also involve directing students to adult education, GED preparation classes or online education options.

The Mount Pleasant Morning Sun, "Oasis school's future debated," Feb. 22, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Will a state-mandated high school curriculum of 18 credits ensure better prepared students in the 21st Century? No," March 7, 2006