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MSD claims success in placing HS students

MARYSVILLE Marysville school officials claim they have placed 3,309 high school students in new, smaller learning communities for next fall, with only 10 students not getting their first or second choices.
Marysville School District assistant superintendent Gail Miller heads the committee assigning students to a host of smaller academies ranging in size from Tulalip Heritage with about 100 potential students to Pathways of Choice with 1,200. The other SLCs will have about 400 students each and many parents and students felt they would not get the schools they wanted.
On March 26 Miller told the Marysville School Board that her team had just finished the second round to place the districts 3,800 high school students. Of the 3,309 application forms received, only the 10 students were left out of their top two, but none of the new academies has been filled yet, although several grade levels have closed out in some SLCs.
There are still some spaces in every school, Miller said. No school is full.
More than 500 applications still remain to be processed but most of those are in self-contained learning environments such as the Running Start program where students study at local community colleges, and the Move Up on line computer-based learning project, and some self contained special education programs. Those students will most likely stay where they already are, but Miller said the district will still have them fill out an SLC application.
We want a form from them anyways so we know that they area where they should be, Miller told the board at their March 26 workshop.
Leaders of Marysville-Pilchuck High School have been working to split the states second-largest high school into a more manageable size to stem a drop out rate that has topped 30 percent in recent years. Current four-year graduation rates are at 74 percent, and when fifth-year students are included that rate raises four percent.
With smaller learning communities the district is betting that teachers will know their students better and give them the attention they need to succeed and earn a high school diploma. Many parents and teachers have resisted the move, saying the smaller schools will lack the choices offered at a traditional comprehensive high school.
A new 1,600-student campus on Getchell Hill is being designed to house four academies of 400 students each, and four of the SLCs will migrate there when the campus opens as expected in 2011.
Of the remaining 500 students, 200 are in the Move Up program and they will stay there and wont be taking slots other students might want.
That is their SLC, Miller said before the board meeting. Those students are totally online.
The district has a headcount of 3,800 high school students, but the state tracks students by Full Time Equivalents, and part-time students are calculated accordingly.
The assignment committee included a school board member and a parent and they chewed through 668 more forms Monday after slotting 2,657 students into their first choice during a six-hour session March 19.
Miller has pledged that any student who doesnt get one of their first two choices will be visited.
We have staff who will be meeting with those families, Miller told the board.

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