avondale elementary topeka Google
The Avondale West building will become an alternative school.

Former elementary will become alternative middle/high school in Topeka, Kan.

Avondale West closed as an elementary campus in May.

The former Avondale West Elementary School, which closed its doors in May, will become the Topeka (Kan.) School District’s alternative school for middle- and high-school students.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that the Topeka school board has approved plans to make improvements to the two-story building.

Dustin Dick, the district’s head of principals, says the alternative school will open shortly after Labor Day. It will have the capacity for 45 students, with no more than 15 students in a core subject class.

The school program is geared for students who receive out-of-school suspensions, have 20 to 30 disciplinary referrals and who don’t qualify for services at other programs.

Dick said he is asking all of the district’s middle- and high-school principals to identify up to five students at the beginning of the school year who may need to be referred to the alternative school to give staff time to observe the students. He said the students won’t be immediately referred to the alternative school, but there may be some likely candidates early in the school year.

Joy Grimes, who will be the alternative school principal, says the goal will be to get the students back to their home school as soon as possible.

“We look at this as not a dumping ground; this is an intervention,” Grimes says. “They’re just acting out because they’re dealing with stuff. A classroom size of 35 (students) can’t do that.”

Larry Robbins, deputy superintendent, says the Linn building, which closed in 2011 as an elementary school, had been considered as the other site for the alternative school. He said the central location of Avondale West, access to a bus route and minimal remodeling made it the better candidate for the alternative program.

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