PITTSBURG — For some students, the classroom can be a difficult place.
Several Pittsburg School District students are now caught up and can graduate on time thanks to the PASS Academy,  PASS Academy Director Trevor Elliott said during a USD 250 Board of Education meeting on Monday.

The PASS Academy, which stands for Pittsburg Alternative School Setting, was announced in May 2018. The program was created to help students who are having trouble succeeding in a traditional classroom.

Previous to PASS Academy students had the option to enroll in the Crawford County Virtual Learning Center.
“What makes things a little different, is that they [CCVLC] are not necessarily connected to the high school directly, there's a relationship there, but at PASS if you want participate in football, participate in clubs, do those kind of things they are fully able to do that,” Elliott said. “We are just an extension.”

According to Elliott, the program is succeeding. The program has served 27 students total between the Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 semesters. Several of these students have met the qualifications for graduation this upcoming weekend.
“Most students have accomplished more credits this semester than they have any other semester prior,” Elliott said.

The program delivers the education through mostly virtual learning, which Elliott said helps students if they are behind in class. Aside from virtual learning, teachers from the district visit the school to teach courses in a smaller class setting for about an hour a day.
“Being primarily virtual, it allows students to be able to make up some of that work,” Elliott said.

The major determination for PASS Academy applicants is the student is behind on credits.

Elliott, who had some of the PASS Academy students in his own classes at Pittsburg High School, said he has seen the improvement in these students’ education.
“The majority of the students [in the program] just don’t function with 20 to 25 other students for various reasons,” Elliott said. “Sometimes they don’t want to speak up, they don’t want to ask for help or turn things in.”
“With the virtual setting, the majority of them have been very successful with that. They work at their own pace and there’s not a teacher constantly on their case all of the time about turning things in.”

Most students enrolled in the program struggle with social anxiety, Elliott said.

Next year’s goals for the academy are transitioning the students who wish to return to the high school, and encouraging students to take classes at the Southeast Kansas Career and Technical Education Center.

Elliott said he would like to see the program grow, and the new building on 4th Street the program moved into in January has helped contribute to its current growth.

Although both the board and Elliott would like to see the program succeed, they also want to take into consideration the students needs. For example, students who have social anxiety may struggle with larger class sizes, the board and Elliott said.

The PASS Academy is still working on logistics, such as transportation and substitutes who are familiar in an alternative school setting.

Superintendent of Schools Richard Proffitt and the board of education applauded Elliott and the other staff’s efforts with the program.
“When you hear about a kid who has caught up because now they are in a setting where they can be successful — even in a year —  where we knew there was going to be a learning process, how can we see that other than a major success for our kids,” Proffitt said. “We went in this year with some ‘question marks’ and ‘wait and sees’ but I think the proof is in the pudding.  “Trevor and the rest of the staff that has been over there has done a tremendous job.
“We’ll continue to look at ways in which we could improve”

In other business, Crossland Construction representatives updated the board on the bond project. According to the representatives, Pittsburg High School’s project is entering its last phase of renovations. Pittsburg Community Middle School’s project is approximately 94 percent completed and has a completion date of June 7.

Proffitt announced that Madison Nagel and Nicole Konopelko were recognized as 2019 Kansas Governor's Scholars on May 5 at Washburn University. The program honors the top 1 percent to graduating seniors in all of Kansas. According to the USD 250 website, the students were joined by their mothers and each invited a teacher who has been a significant part of our their lives to attend. Nicole invited Emily Smith, and Madison invited Marjorie Giffin. The superintendent                                                                                                                                                                                                                      also joined the students.

Assistant Superintendent Brad Hanson shared with the board about the recent trip to look at the GO CAPS program in Monett School District. Local people from businesses and organizations took the trip with Hanson — including the Pittsburg Area Chamber of Commerce, from the City of Pittsburg, Pittsburg State University and Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas. The program gives students a head-start on their careers, Hanson said.
“All indications on the way back say everyone is impressed with the program and would like to move forward,” Hanson said.

The board approved a technology purchase for Lakeside Elementary for three carts of Chromebooks, which come with 25 Chromebooks in each cart for the price of $26,232.92. The board also approved student insurance for the district.

EAP counseling services and out of state policy was discussed during the meeting.