Alternative avenues for education: Ardmore school board votes to end Second Chance Academy, replace it with online tools, individualized lessons

Michael Smith
In this June 2018 file photo, two portable buildings near Ardmore High School prepare to house the Second Chance Academy. On Monday, school superintendent Kim Holland said the board of education voted to end the academy and replace it with an expanded program.

After eight years of supporting Ardmore students who may not have found traditional avenues for school effective, the Second Chance Academy has been dissolved. Ardmore City Schools Superintendent Kim Holland said the program has been outgrown by the district.

“We’re reorganizing because we’ve got more kids than we can serve,” Holland said after Monday’s Board of Education meeting. “It’s evolving into a program we think will serve more kids.” He said staff will continue working with Second Chance students through the end of the current school year, but other personnel was reassigned to other parts of the district as part of Monday’s vote.

The academy was formed in the summer of 2012 at the First Christian Church in Ardmore. Due to unmet building requirements, the program then moved to Charles Evans Elementary. By 2018, Second Chance Academy had taken over portable buildings that once housed University Center of Southern Oklahoma classes. The academy would help about 75 students each year, but Holland hopes the new program can serve up to 250 students each year.

“We think we’re going to be able to give kids more attention, more services with this new format,” Holland said.

Unlike Take Two Academy, which assists high school students who may be missing credits needed to graduate, Second Chance Academy targeted students who have been removed from the classroom for disciplinary reasons, or students that cannot participate in traditional classrooms for medical reasons. Holland said the mission of the new program will still focus on these students along with “over-aged” eighth graders.

“We need to go ahead and get them into a program like this so they can catch up and get back on their grade level before they get to high school,” he said.

Second Chance currently provides two full-time teachers, two social workers, and one special education teacher. Staff evaluates students each week to ensure students are keeping up with the curriculum. Holland said the new program will use scheduled meetings between teachers and students, either to provide more personalized instruction or to distance students from people or situations that cause problems.

Aside from disciplinary reasons, Holland hopes students with medical conditions can also receive personalized instruction. “We’ve got kids that are, healthwise fragile and can’t succeed in a regular school situation. They now have more freedom to work with individuals outside of the school setting,” he said.

Holland admitted that the new program is still being developed and is currently without a proper name, but knows the ultimate goal is to keep students from falling through the cracks.

“Right now it’s just a good idea, we’ll see how it works out,” he said.

In other business, the board:

– approved fundraiser requests for the Jefferson PTO, AHS FCCLA;

– approved rental agreement with Heritage Hall for March 17 Powwow;

– approved agreements with Jam Down Sound and Music Mix for the AHS Prom;

– approved an agreement with Take Two Alternative Education Services of Southern Oklahoma, Inc. for alternative education services for 2019-2020;

– approved an agreement with AirMedCare Network B2C Annual Athletic Site Membership, with $920 in dues paid for by Lexy Thompson;

– canceled school on May 15 for the Class 5A and 6A State Track Meet at Noble Stadium;

– received gifts from students across the district for a board appreciation event.