A marked shift in the education of at-risk students in the Natrona County School District took the first of two steps to becoming an official policy at the district's board of trustees meeting on Monday.

The trustees voted unanimously to change the system of graduation requirements for students at the alternative Roosevelt High School.

The trustees will vote on the policy change at their next meeting June 10 to make it official.

"We want to increase our graduation rate, and there are an awful lot of kids who don't graduate when they go to Roosevelt," trustee Dana Howie said.

Their lower graduation rates affect the overall graduation rates of the rest of the high schools in the district -- Kelly Walsh, Natrona County, and Midwest high schools.

"We want to make it a true alternative school to the point where it is no longer going to be a 'school of choice,'" Howie said.

Students will need to apply to attend Roosevelt, and administrators will determine if they qualify and they, along with the students, need to commit to working on the students' education.

"We want them to be successful; we want them to get the core subjects which are necessary for Wyoming standards," Howie said. "And we want them to take at least four electives because we want them to get an idea of how they're going to support themselves."

Roosevelt is at the Pathways Innovation Center in west Casper that offers a variety of technical education opportunities, so the hope is the students will take more than four electives and be on their way to becoming certified in a trade, she said. "Those kids will have a reason to stay there, because they'll learn what they need to do to support themselves."

Likewise, Howie said she hopes the students' success will lead to a higher graduation rate for the district as a whole.

Last month, Roosevelt principal Shawna Trujillo and the principals of the other high schools outlined the overhaul for Roosevelt.

It has operated as a "school of choice" in the district. That means its students must earn 26.5 credits to graduate, but that programs doesn't fit the needs of many students.

"They come with needs that cannot be addressed in any other setting," Trujillo said.

Under the proposed policy, students would need to apply to Roosevelt, and the school would work with them on an individual basis to determine what they need, she said.

The graduation plan would align their education with their needs, and lower the credit-hour requirement to 20, she said.

That in no way means Roosevelt would be lowering standards compared to requirements for other students in other high schools, Trujillo said. "We're shifting the expectations. It really is a shift. It's about aligning the needs, leveling the playing fields for all learners."

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