When I read a recent story about the new Choices program to be implemented by the Sunnyside School District in partnership with the city, a couple of questions popped into my head.
First, I wanted to know what the difference was between recently closed PRIDE High School and the new program.
The difference was explained to me by Sunnyside Schools Superintendent Dr. Rick Cole. He told me Sunnyside once had a day reporting program, funded by Yakima County. When the funding was removed, juveniles with behavioral problems within the schools were no longer afforded intervention.
PRIDE was intended as a comprehensive educational center, meaning students received a full education at the school.
With a continued need to address student behavior issues within the school district, administrators sought and received funding from the state legislature.
What was originally going to be referred to as the Gang Reduction program, became the Choices program. The new program will afford students disciplinary intervention.
I, not being an educator, do not know how vast disciplinary issues are within the Sunnyside schools. I do have a strong desire to see youth become responsible, educated adults.
Because of this desire, I am proud of the school district for reaching out and seeking the necessary funding to implement a program which addresses the behavioral issues. It is my hope the staff involved in the program will dig deep in addressing the cause of such behavioral problems. I know there is a root to issues facing our youth and working to resolve those issues is a healthy benefit to society.
Another question I had for Dr. Cole involved the property being utilized for Choices. I wondered why the district was not using the property that formerly housed PRIDE High School, instead choosing to erect a new structure near Sunnyside's Law and Justice Center.
He said the state requires the Choices facility to be similar to that of the Yakima County juvenile detention center. This requirement allows year-round funding from the legislature, which will better enable staff to work with the students whether school is in session or not.
I am appreciative of the fact that Dr. Cole was ready and able to satisfy my curiosity.
I am only led to believe that the Sunnyside School District truly wishes to afford the youth within the community every opportunity available. And, if there are barriers to the students within the district receiving an education, the district is stepping up to assist them in overcoming those barriers.
I also believe community support of the school district is invaluable. If we want a change for the better among the youth whom we believe have behavioral issues, we need to work together in helping them, not condemning them.
That is exactly what the city leaders and school district have done...banding together in a show of support for youngsters who are in need of assistance.
1 - Jennie McGhan • June 13, 2008 • 4:22 PM
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