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'Gang' funding sought by school district

Sunnyside School District Superintendent Rick Cole last night informed school board directors that he was among a group that traveled to Olympia earlier this month to lobby for support and funding regarding the district and the city's plan to tackle the gang issue.

The group consisted of school district officials and city staff.

Cole said the district has done an adequate job of identifying gang members and enacting zero tolerance, and the city has done its part in passing a gang ordinance. "But when they're not prosecuted and they're sent back to us, we need a place for them," he said.

The school district has come up with proposed plans to tackle the issue.

First, the district would like to partner with the city in creating a day reporting program, and have a building solely dedicated to the Choices, CAP (College Alternative Placement) and Transition programs.

The Choices program works with students identified as having gang ties to help achieve academic success. The CAP program helps upperclassmen who have fallen behind in credits and tutors students to help them get their equivalency diploma. The Transition program is a semester program that allows each teacher to instruct five to seven students during three or four, 80-minute sessions per week.

In order to do this, they would like to get a $250,000 grant to pilot a "day reporting program." The goal is to have the building located at the Sunnyside Law and Justice campus.

Cole noted that state legislators have earmarked funds, but they are for big cities: Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Yakima and Vancouver.

He told directors that the district will consider pursuing other funding options.

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