EducationThe Putnam Examiner

Carmel Board of Ed Urged to Fund Alternative High School

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By Rick Pezzullo

Current and former students at the alternative high school in the Carmel School District pleaded with the Board of Education earlier this month to fund the program in the 2022-23 budget.

A passionate, standing-room only crowd turned out at the April 5 meeting after word spread that the alternative high school, also known as the A-school, could be cut, as was threatened in past years.

“The one program you can’t take away is this one,” said Samantha Fulling, 34, a mother of three who attended the A-school in 2004. “You care nothing about equality if you get rid of this program. These kids need the help. They may not be special education on paper, but these kids are just as, and equally important as every mainstream kid. Don’t take these kids futures away.”

Tara Dugan, an A-school alumnus who is now in the U.S. Air Force, said she flew 5,000 miles to attend the meeting and advocate for the program.

“I am one of the success stories of the alternative high school,” she said. “The skills I learned with the alternative high school I now apply to help first-term airmen in the United States Air Force cope with being so far away from their families for the first time. Cutting this program would not benefit students at all. I will help them become better leaders.”

Senior Eve Henderson was brought to tears as she told board members how important the A-school has been in her life.

“I really found myself there. I was able to get on track there. It made me such a better person,” she said. “I really hope it’s here to stay. It’s made such a difference. It’s helped so many past generations. Who knows how many future ones it will help?”

Austin Pritz, a local realtor, attended the A-school in 2010 when as a sophomore he was failing every subject but gym.

“I could feel they saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself,” he said. “This program, under no uncertain terms, changed my life for the better. It would be an academic disservice to future minds (to cut it).”

Board President Eric Mittelstadt said the board and administration decided to present a barebones budget to the public to show what it would look like with a zero increase.

“Nobody on this board wants to cut all this stuff,” he said. “In my mind, I don’t see a budget we put up that doesn’t include the A-school. I will push for a budget that includes the A-school.”

Trustee Jason Paraskeva concurred with Mittelstadt, while board Vice President Matt Vanacoro said it was beneficial to hear the public support for the A-school.

“To everybody who’s in this program and who has been through this program, I want to tell you that we see you and we hear you, and you absolutely represent the best of what this entire district has to offer,” he said.

The Board of Education is scheduled to discuss the budget again at its April 19 meeting.

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