All students in the Hickman Mills School District do not find success in traditional school programs. Many factors contribute to this lack of success including high numbers of suspensions, failing grades, low attendance, teen parenting, and students responsible for meeting the economic needs of their families. Currently, the district offers several alternative options including Star Academy, credit recovery (PLATO), Twilight,Missouri Options, and Legacy Virtual Academy. The majority of these programs are inconsistent, disjointed, and cost prohibitive.
As a result of the current state of alternative education in the district, an Alternative Education Task Force was formed. This group identified several alternative education options which included district-run alternative programs and Ombudsman Educational Services (Ombudsman). The Task Force team visited several alternative educational sites including a district-run alternative program in a neighboring school district. Due to the lack of urban Ombudsman sites in Missouri, the team traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to visit Ombudsman programs in an urban setting.
The Task Force evaluated the different programs to determine the “best fit” for the Hickman Mills School District. Factors considered included staffing, curriculum, facilities, and overall cost. After a thorough evaluation of the different programs, the decision of the Task Force was Ombudsman is the best option for the Hickman Mills School District. Ombudsman is a nationally recognized alternative education program with over 35 years of experience. Ombudsman provides a rigorous curriculum in a blended format, meeting the individual needs of each student. In addition to the focus on academic success, students also learn positive social skills and develop long-term academic and personal goals.
This decision was based on:
1) limited facilities space to offer a district-run program,
2) the cost of fully staffing an in-district program, including high-quality staff, administration, and classified employees, and
3) the quality of the service provided by Ombudsman.
All facilities, technology, and staffing considerations will be handled by Ombudsman. They will:
1) purchase or lease store-front property within the district boundaries and renovate the space to fit the needs of the program,
2) provide all necessary technology including equipment, software and all technical support, and
3) recruit and hire their staff locally; all teachers will be properly certificated.
Ombudsman will offer our students with unique learning needs or life circumstances the opportunity to be successful in a non-traditional learning environment. The staff to student ratio is smaller than a traditional school setting, allowing for stronger relationship building, and more one-to-one instructional time. Students are taught both through online curriculum and in small group settings.