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Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Commissioners OK lease for alternative school

By Shelley Grieshop
CELINA - Mercer County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a one-year, no-cost lease to another county agency seeking space for a growing alternative school program.  
The county will allow the local Aladdin Alternative School to hold small group classes for junior high and high school students in the former Emergency Medical Services building on Riley Street in Celina.
"We don't really have anybody else interested (in using the building) right now," commissioner Jerry Laffin told Mercer County Educational Service Center Superintendent Shelly Vaughn, who made the request during a meeting Tuesday morning.
The small building - sandwiched between the council on aging center and the combined EMS/Emergency Management Agency office - currently is vacant. It formerly housed the county's EMS staff.
"We would use it for a multipurpose building but primarily for small-group instruction," Vaughn said. "It's a quieter setting for kids that maybe just need a break from the normal school setting."
Changes were made in January to the Aladdin Alternative program, which is no longer a charter school. Classes are held in the Lefeld and junior fair buildings at the fairgrounds - bordered by Riley Street - and supervised by administrator Dave Lamb.
"All county schools participate in the Aladdin program," Vaughn explained. "Some students have short-term needs such as (during) suspensions; some stay longer. It's a one-stop shop for all."
The program allows youths with varying needs to remain a student in his or her own school district while continuing education, she said. The ESC last year capped enrollment at 50 due to space issues and kept a waiting list, Vaughn added.
"I hope this program continues to grow," she said, adding the ESC may have to seek more space in the future.
The former opportunity and alternative school programs are now combined as Aladdin, Vaughn noted.
Commissioner Greg Homan asked Vaughn if any renovations need to be made to the building to accommodate classes.
"No, I don't think so," she said, adding a path from the Lefeld and junior fair buildings to the Riley Street building would be helpful.
The ESC must pay for utilities after it begins classes in the building, likely Sept. 1. County clerk/administrator Kim Everman said she would furnish an estimated cost prior to that date.
Commissioner Jerry Laffin said providing use of the building without charging rent is the right thing to do.
"We're helping out another government agency," he said.
Commissioner Rick Muhlenkamp said it's important to support the youth in the community and a "positive program" that could better their lives.
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