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‘Tiger Path’ alternative school moving forward

The Excelsior Springs School District is moving forward with plans to open an alternative school to keep suspended and other at-risk students on track, and have even chosen a site for the new program to call home—at least temporarily.

On Monday night, the Excelsior Springs Board of Education voted 6-0 to approve start-up costs for the program, as well as a lease for the location where it will operate for at least three years.

The program has come together fairly quickly. The board first discussed the matter in open session last month, agreeing that it was an idea worth exploring for some students.

In particular, they noted, students on long-term out-of-school suspension not only fall behind in their schoolwork, but many of them consider an OSS to be a kind of vacation from school.

An alternative school would allow at least a certain number of students to continue to attend classes, but outside the regular classroom environment.

Since the initial discussion, Superintendent of Schools John Lacy established start-up costs and identified two possible sites.

The start-up consists partly of one-time expenditures—approximately $25,000 for security and about $50,000 for technology, for example. Erin Oligschlaeger, the school district’s director of student services, would be the administrator and only a few staff members would be hired at first. As the site added students, with a capacity of perhaps 20 at one time, more staff members would be added.

The two bids were for existing buildings. Cecil and Colleen Lovett submitted a bid for the 4,195-square-foot site at 225 N. Jesse James Rd., the former location of Anytime Fitness, and Triple H Leasing, LLC, turned in a bid for the 8,000-square-foot site at 1000 N. Jesse James Rd., formerly Red Cross Pharmacy (or, historically, Don’s Pharmacy) and Jenni’s Hallmark.

The Lovett bid was a three-year lease for $3,600 per month, while Triple H’s three-year lease was for $2,666.67 per month.

Lacy proposed accepting the Triple H bid.

Board member Terry Krier wondered if the school district had considered building its own facility on property already owned by the district.

Lacy said that was discussed, but he felt the three-year lease was a better way to start.

“This way we can get experience and see what our needs are going to be,” he said. “Then we can come back with a building of our own, or there may be an existing building we can purchase. But if we figure out that this is not a direction we want to go, there are no permanent expenditures.”

The lease of the former pharmacy and retail shop, located on the west side of the T intersection of N. Jesse James Road and Miller Avenue, includes a whitewashed interior to start with, plus tax, snow removal, striping of the parking lot and other details. The only thing for which the school district will be responsible is common maintenance of the building.

The board voted unanimously to allow the school district to move forward on establishing the Tiger Path alternative school project, and the vote to lease the Triple H property was 5-0 with one abstention—board member Matt Hartwig, of Red Cross Pharmacy. Board member Troy Snelling was absent from Monday’s meeting.

Lacy said with the board’s approval, school workers would begin to renovate the building for the school district’s use, and the Tiger Path program would likely get fully underway after the beginning of the 2014 calendar year.

By Eric Copeland •

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