Aztec to start night school for students falling behind
First session of program will begin Oct. 10
FARMINGTON — The Aztec Municipal School District will start a remedial night school program in October after the district's Board of Education unanimously approved $22,000 for the program in a special meeting Thursday.
In its first year, the program will target upperclassmen falling behind graduation requirements, according to Rocky Torres, the principal of Vista Nueva High School in Aztec, who proposed the program and will oversee its administration.
It will be available to students who are behind on credits at both Vista Nueva and Aztec High School, as well as students who “are long-term suspended or have special circumstances approved by the administration,” according to the program contract.
Almost a quarter of Aztec High School’s sophomores, juniors and seniors are behind on credits they need to graduate, according to Torres' proposal. At Vista Nueva, 37 percent of the 10th- through 12th-grade population is behind on credits.
“I feel like it’s really going to capture the juniors and seniors who are looking at graduation and saying, ‘Well, I’m nine or 10 credits away (from graduation requirements) as a senior. I can’t do it in the school day, so I am going to drop out,’” Torres said during Thursday’s meeting.
The first session of the program will begin on Oct. 10 and continue through Dec. 14.
As many as 80 students can participate in the program, with four classes of 20 students meeting from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. twice a week at Vista Nueva. Torres said the first session will target roughly 60 students because of limitations with equipment, including laptops and licenses with the online learning program the night school will use called Edgenuity.
Night school will cover core classes only, and the program is designed strictly to recover credits, not to get ahead of credit requirements, according to Torres.
In the program, students will work at their own pace to recover credits. After each unit, students are required to pass quizzes and tests with a score of at least 60 percent before moving on to the next unit. Participants can access the program from any device — even their phone, Torres said — but unit quizzes and course finals must be taken at the campus under the supervision of teachers administering the night school.
Three teachers will oversee the program, and Tania Prokup, Aztec Municipal Schools deputy superintendent, said the district will put out an in-house application for Aztec teachers looking to pick up a few extra hours of work.
To participate, students must get approval from their high school counselor and sign a contract — along with their parent or guardian — that includes attendance requirements and course timelines. There is a $25 fee for every half-credit a student takes, which is mainly a way to get students invested in the program, Torres said.
“We found in the summer school program, offering it for free, students often kind of dismiss it,” Torres said. “I can easily put something in there — scholarships available if necessary.”
Aztec Municipal Schools Superintendent Kirk Carpenter said if a student cannot afford to pay the fees, the school will “not let that be a barrier.”
“We want some skin in the game, for obvious reasons, but we won’t let that be a limit,” Carpenter said. “The true intent of it is, as a district, we know that this could cost us this much. The real issue is that if we keep those students, we know that the cost is there, but there’s also a cost of these students not making it because it’s really costing us as a society, so we won’t let that be something to hold us back from getting the students in.”
The $22,000 allocated to the program comes from the district’s operational budget, according to Carpenter. The program was approved for both semesters in the 2017-18 school year, and the board asked Torres to update the board on the program’s success as the first semester proceeds.
Carpenter said the operational budget has some leeway this year, as there are teaching positions that were budgeted for in May and have yet to be filled.
Megan Petersen is the business and education reporter for the Farmington Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4621.