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Council hears update on Choices program

Sunnyside School Board Director Miguel Puente was on hand at last night's Sunnyside City Council meeting to inform council members of the progress made in the Choices program.

The program is an education component being offered by the Sunnyside School District that addresses the needs of mainstream school students, those students who are simply a credit or two away from being successful, students that are likely to not graduate with a traditional diploma yet can be steered into more trade-focused education opportunities, according to Puente.

He told council Monday night the goal of Choices is to provide an environmentally secure learning environment for youth that due to circumstances in their lives are not able to currently be in a traditional classroom, however are still desiring to make progress in their education experience.

The proposed site of this new building is adjacent to the Sunnyside Law and Justice Center.

Puente explained partners in this venture would locate a 42' x 66' modular classroom near the Sunnyside police complex. The close proximity to the Law and Justice Center would create a learning environment that presents a safe and secure atmosphere, without the problems created by having an officer in the classroom. Any problems that occur, in spite of the location, could be quickly responded to by officers who are working within 200 feet.

The program has created a partnership between the city of Sunnyside and the Sunnyside School District. Yakima County would also join the program as the juvenile probation officer who currently works in the Sunnyside Law and Justice Center would be relocated into one of the office spaces in the Choices building.

Another partnership would involve Central Washington Comprehensive Mental health. This group would offer prevention and intervention services in a classroom setting.

Puente said it is hoped the new building will be up and running by the start of the 2008-09 school year.

"I think it's a great program and a step in the right direction," Sunnyside Mayor Pro-tem Bruce Epps said.

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