When the Sumner School District began search for a new alternative learning facility, a few needs came to mind: access to community resources and mentors, jobs and transportation. All these were found in the city-owned building next door to the Sumner Library, at 1110 Fryar Ave.
“The Alternative High School staff is thrilled with the location of this program,” said program manager Erin LaVerdiere. In addition to library access, the school will share a roof with the Metropolitan Development Counsel (MDC), a drug and alcohol counseling center with connections to health and housing resources.
This September, 50 students will attend the core and technical education classes needed to pass high school. The group will be split into two sessions – morning and afternoon.
The students are a mix of Sumner and Bonney Lake high school students eligible for alternative learning who share a common trait.
“Our team is looking primarily for students who are motivated to complete high school,” said LaVerdiere. “ We aren't accepting students who are unmotivated to do the work.”
Most of the students are in their junior or senior year in high school and for whatever reason find they are not successful in a traditional school setting.
“There are those who feel lost in the big schools, and some who just don't like the whole high school scene and do better in a smaller setting,” said LaVerdiere.
There are several special-education students enrolled as well as some who are in treatment recovery, are homeless or who have been incarcerated.
The facility will work with the students to identify their needs and future career interests and there will be a mix of technical education courses offered through a partnership with the Pierce County Skill Center.
“Our intent is to provide an individualized plan for each student to complete their high school graduation requirements in a timely manner,” said LaVerdiere. “A bonus would be to provide job skills as part of the experience as well.”
The school doesn't have an official name yet, but the district wanted to wait so the students could have a say in the process.
The Sumner School District has signed a one-year lease with the city of Sumner for the building, at a rent of $1,749 and lease-hold tax of $224.63 every month.
“This is a very considerable situation for us,” said Sherm Voiles, Sumner School Board member. The Sumner City Council approved the lease at the special meeting on July 9 and the Sumner School Board approved it at the monthly meeting on July 18.