By Ken Smith
An educational program for Girdwood high school and middle school students has been cancelled.
The Girdwood Optional Education or Go-Ed was to be sponsored by Girdwood 2020 and provide independent study and tutorial programs for local Girdwood students grades 7-12. It was also suppose to be the first step towards establishing a charter school or public high school in Girdwood.
Girdwood 2020 was in the process of hiring a part-time tutor to assist in the program, which would have allowed students to use the University of Nebraska Correspondents School curriculum, but the teacher hired opted to work for the Anchorage School District’s Family Partnership Charter School, said Diana Stone Livingston of Girdwood 2020.
“Girdwood 2020 has a year’s work trying to get the program going, and now we’re going to let it go,” Livingston said. “But right now our job is done and we’ll support however the program needs support. We hope that the concept for a high school will be embraced by the Anchorage School District, but whatever happens it won’t take place for another ten years.”
Estimates for high school age students is around 25, Livingston said, and with about 150 students attending Girdwood’s elementary and middle school in grades k-8, she said that could mean another 60 to 75 high school students who would be interested in attending a local charter school or participating in a locally run high school educational program.
The school district has spent a couple of years reviewing the option of building a new high school in Girdwood, but right now the projected number of high school students does not support such a project.
The more likely option would be to establish a local charter school; however, that process would take at least two years, said Connie Bensler, Charter School Supervisor for the Anchorage School District.
If a student chooses to attend a charter school, money is allocated by the school district to buy curriculum materials and services, she said. A typical allotment would be around $3,400 per student.
An option currently available for Girdwood high school students not interested in attending a public high school in Anchorage is to enroll in a home-school program through the Anchorage School District’s Family Partnership Charter School.
“Girdwood students are certainly welcome to become part of Anchorage School District’s Family Partnership home schooling program,” Bensler wrote in a letter to the Turnagain Times, “but per District policy, they must sign up directly with the school.”