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Divided Board Authorizes Alternative School Plans

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Divided Board Authorizes Alternative School<br><br>Plans<br><br>BY MARY JO FRANK News School Reporter<br><br>The Ann Arbor Board of Education authorized school administrators to draft plans for a seventh and eighth grade alternative school Wednesday night.<br><br>The resolution, passed 5 to 3, represented a number of compromises and was a watered-down version of an administrative recommendation calling for the district to establish an alternative intermediate school, based on informal instructional methods, to be piloted in the fall of 1975 and to be housed in an elementary school where space is available.<br><br>The school board directed the administration to develop plans for the school for seventh and eighth graders but stipulated the program should be housed in an<br><br>Intermediate school. Board members also struck out the clause calling for the program to be piloted in 1975.<br><br>Board President Clarence Dukes said he thinks it may be too late to organize the program in time for the next school year.<br><br>Initially only Trustees Patricia Pooley, Tanya Israel and Wendy Barhydt supported the alternative school proposal. Barhydt requested that it be housed in an intermediate, rather than an elementary school."<br><br>Trustees Peter Wright and Dukes eventually agreed to direct the administration to develop a plan after being assured that plan would not be rushed and would be brought back to the board for final approval.<br><br>Trustee Paul Weinhold was critical of<br><br>his fellow board members for being willing to modify the superintendent’s proposal. He suggested the board vote “yes” or “no" and let the administration come back with another proposal if the first was rejected.<br><br>Trustee Terry Martin said the school board should study the whole issue of alternatives and, if needed, develop a number of them to meet the needs of all students.<br><br>Weinhold and Martin were joined by Trustee Cecil Warner in opposing the administration’s recommendation and the compromise worked out by board members.<br><br>People for Alternative Learning Situations (PALS), a group of parents and educators who favor more open, informal classrooms, have been working with the<br><br>administration to develop the intermediate school proposal.<br><br>, Ron Urick, chairman of PALS, said this morning his group was encouraged by the board’s decision to move ahead with plans for the alternative program.<br><br>“We’re confident the outcome will be a program that responds to the needs of the young people in the community,” Urick said.<br><br>He added PALS is also pleased with tfie broad base of community support for tfcie alternative program as evidenced by the Ann Arbor League of Women Voters, and leaders of the citizens' advisory committee studying building and site needs. They spoke in favor of the ad-. ministrative recommendation Wednesday night.'<br><br>Mary Polasky, second vice president of<br><br>the League, said the League believes the Ann Arbor community recognizes the deed for a variety of instructional methods to aid individual students and the merits of the elementary informal classrooms and the secondary alternative schools.<br><br>She added a variety in instruction and classroom organization, ranging from the more structured to the more “open” is becoming part of a national pattern in education.<br><br>The Rev. Richard Preis, chairman of the citizens advisory committee on buildings and sites, said although probably . his youngsters would not choose the kind of alternative being discussed, he supported the administrative recommendation.<br><br>“There are parents who want this op-<br><br>tion and they are entitled to it," Preis said.<br><br>Although Supt. Harry Howard was not present at the meeting because he is on vacation, he said last week the alternative school at the intermediate level would fill the gap that exists between informal classrooms at the elementary level and alternatives at the high school level, Pioneer II, Community High and the Roberto Clemente Student Development Center.<br><br>The U-M Bureau of School Services recommended the district establish an alternative intermediate school. The citizens’ advisory committee on building and site needs came to no consensus on the need for such a program.<br><br>(Other school board stories appear on pages 3 and 44.) *