By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — In two weeks, class will begin for Anderson's new alternative school, The Crossing Educational Center. Now it just needs to find a home here in the city.
During an informational session Tuesday night at the Geater Center, Principal Nate Lowe said officials have six options, including empty school buildings, and are just negotiating prices.
He expects The Crossing to settle on a location within the week.
Approved by the Anderson Community Schools board in April, The Crossing targets students under the age of 19 who have either dropped out, been expelled or are struggling in a more traditional school setting.
Students who take classes at the center will attend two sessions, one likely from 9 a.m. to noon and the other from 1 to 4 p.m. The times will be finalized once a location is selected.
Lowe said students take one class at a time, typically finishing it in about 18 days, working at their own speed. On average, students finish 10 credits per year on a four-year academic track.
A junior in high school, Renita Goins said she wants to attend The Crossing to go her own pace. Plus, she doesn't do well with all the drama.
"Some go to school for friends," she said. "I want to go to school to get out of school."
She wants to do "what I'm supposed to do" and focus on education.
Lowe said public schools like ACS are required to educate every student who walks through the door.
"Some of the students walking through that door" just don't fit, he added. That's where alternative options like The Crossing come in.
"We do life first, school second," Lowe said.
ACS has suggested students to the center, but those interested can fill out an intent-to-enroll form at www.crossingeducation.com.
Funding for each student is provided through the Average Daily Membership (ADM) money that ACS receives per student from the state, 5 percent of it remaining with the school district. There is, however, a $25 enrollment fee.
But students will still, essentially, be a part of the Anderson Community Schools system. Lowe said those who graduate from The Crossing will reflect on ACS' graduation rate.
Educators at the center work to get students back into the school system, he added, using motivators like extracurricular activities The Crossing does not offer.
Students will be required to participate in community service and a nine-week internship or apprenticeship before they graduate.
Lowe said they "identify the need in community," like heading to a park for cleanup on a Saturday, for example.
Tamie Tatum, who works on community development for The Crossing, said a survey will be given to students at the beginning of the year to identify their interests. Then the center will reach out to the community for partnerships.
The school has a capacity of 75 students now, but if officials see a need, Lowe said they may go back into negotiations with ACS.
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Some quick facts about The Crossing Educational Center: It's a state-accredited, faith-based alternative school that teams with public schools. There are 16 centers in Indiana. Anderson's opens Aug. 1. Like Anderson Community Schools, The Crossing will be on a balanced calendar, though winter and spring breaks will be longer at three weeks. There is no dress code. As long as the clothing is appropriate for a public setting, no profanity for example, it's acceptable.