The old Anderson Elementary School has students once again. However, they are not youngsters learning their ABCs. Part of the campus is now the West Orange-Stark Academic Alternative School. In the next few months, the main part of the school will be remodeled to house the West Orange-Cove district administration offices.

The changes are part of the $6 million bond issue voters approved in May.

Superintendent James Colbert, who took over the job in January, wanted to use the Anderson campus. The school was closed last year when the district opened a new elementary school. Also, the superintendent wanted to separate the students who are in alternative classes because of discipline problems. Previously, the high school alternative students were on the main high school campus and took the same buses as the regular students.

Colbert said the students will have a “very, very structured setting.”

The new alternative school will be in the one-story annex building. Colbert said students will not be able to wear make-up or jewelry and must adhere to strict dress codes. Girls must wear their hair pulled back. If they violate the rules, they will have one day added to their time at the school.

Also, the entrance has security cameras and the door automatically locks. Each student must be buzzed inside. Then, each student will pass through a metal detector and be searched every morning. “Each student will be allowed one house key and no more than $5 in their pocket,” he said.

Colbert hopes to schedule weekly evening classes on violence conflict intervention and drug intervention. If a student attends an hour-long class with a parent, a day of their assignment at the alternative campus will be removed.

The stays at the alternative school will be 30 days, 45 days and up to 60 days. Students must earn a certain amount of points to get credit for serving a day. For instance, if a student comes in the morning and does not meet the dress code, the student will be at the school but will get no credit for attending that day.

Students must also complete a project in which they report why they were put in the alternative school, what they have learned while there, and what they will do to prevent being sent back.

Eventually, part of the main Anderson school building will be demolished and the rest turned into the administration building. The district will sell the current administration building on 15th Street. That property is zoned commercial and backs up to 16th Street land.

 
 
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