Kimmel opening to other districts

Altoona Area offering school, alternative education program with daily tuition rates

Altoona Area School District is opening its William P. Kimmel Alternative School to all Blair County districts next school year.

“It’s a way to ensure the program doesn’t lose money, and it gives other districts a way to provide alternative education to their students without going to private companies,” Superintendent Charles Prijatelj said.

The school board this week approved Prijatelj’s proposal to charge outside districts tuition to send their students to the school.

Currently, Blair school districts that don’t have in-house alternative education programs for students with behavioral concerns contract the services of private companies.

The Altoona board set tuition rates at $65 per day for regular education students and $75 per day for special education students from other districts.

Prijatelj said the proposal has been “well received by area superintendents” and is confident the school’s enrollment can grow from 30 students to 45 students next

year with other districts participating.

The Altoona Area School Board in August decided to throw out consideration about closing the school.

Initially, the board thought there may be cost savings involved with closing the school and contracting Adelphoi Educational Services to provide alternative education to the district’s students. However, after a hearing in May and subsequent presentations from Adelphoi officials and Kimmel teachers, the board overwhelmingly supported keeping the school open.

“I commend Dr. Prijatelj for his vision. This is going to allow us to plug up financial holes but also build cooperation with other districts,” board member Wayne Hippo said. “This should have been done before.”

Some repairs to the school building are slated for the summer. In January, the board discussed solving an asbestos problem at the school. Old floor tiles in a dozen classrooms of the building are becoming unglued, resulting in an asbestos hazard underneath the floor.

The board plans to ask for bidders to repair the flooring in the summer. Prijatelj said in January that a new home for the alternative education program may be found at another school building if the board chooses to build a new elementary school. And the current Kimmel building could eventually be sold, he said.

Mirror Staff Writer Russ O’Reilly is at 946-7435.

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