Despite previous public protests, the Lodi Unified School District board approved expanding a mandatory community day school and moving its location to another site.
The newly opened Walter Katnich Community Day School program currently operates at the Henderson School site.
“It’s been highly successful,” said David Wax, administrative director.
The school started last October and serves expelled students formerly sent to the county’s .one program. Opening its own day school allowed Lodi Unified to recapture an estimated $138,000 in lost per-student funding from the state.
In addition to teaching regular coursework in smaller-than-average class sizes, the district’s program provides counseling with the goal of placing students back in mainstream schools. Wax said student self-esteem has improved, as well.
“We take a strong look at the decision process and their group that may have gotten them in this position,” principal Allen Dosty said recently of the counseling. “The students are really starting to turn themselves around.”
Trustee Ken Davis agreed. At the last board meeting, he said the school has not only given students a chance to graduate high school, but a future.
“All of us make bad choices, but students shouldn’t be penalized and put out of classes forever,” he said.
Come fall, the program will be moved from the Henderson campus to the Turner Elementary School site. That campus was closed last year and its students moved to other schools to save money, and in part to treat contaminated water.
Trustees discussed the day school’s expansion at last month’s meeting, but tabled a vote until issues with community members could be sorted out.
Neighbors voiced concerns over limited parking spaces at Turner and how the district could approve closing one school — Clements Elementary School — but open another that had already been shuttered.
Since then, trustees George Neely and Ron Heberle have visited the new site and met with neighbors, including Bill Bishofberger, who publicly thanked them for visiting.
“I have confidence in your staff for settling any issues,” he said.
On Tuesday, the board also received a report from this year’s Superintendent’s Budget Advisory Committee.
Among its recommendation were $15 million in cuts, including 10 percent of co-curricular activities and depleting funds set aside for freshman high school class-size reductions and a portion for deferred maintenance.
Trustees will meet again at 9 a.m. Saturday for a budget-related study session. The meeting is open to the public and will be held at the district office, 1305 E. Vine St.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at email@example.com.